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"Sorry, awe, excitement": Apollo 16 astronaut describes walking on the moon



Charles Duke saw from Mission Control in Houston when his other NASA astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made their historic Moon landing on July 20, 1969. Less than three years later, he followed in their footsteps as the Apollo 16 lunar module pilot.

The Duke and Apollo 16 Commander John Young module reached the moon's surface on April 20, 1972. At age 36 and 201, Duke became the youngest person to go on the moon and the tenth to reach Earth's natural satellite .

Duke had been CapCom (Capsule Communicator) to Apollo 11, acting as the connection between NASA flight controllers in Houston and Armstrong, Aldrin and Michael Collins in the Apollo 11 spacecraft as they traveled to the moon.

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Finally seeing the moon's surface close was incredible, Duke Fox News told during New York City event hosted by lens maker Zeiss on Friday.

  A portrait of Apollo 16 astronaut Charles Duke. (NASA)

A portrait of Apollo 16 astronaut Charles Duke. (NASA)

"In the fly you get the dynamics, you get the visual signals you are surprised by what you're doing," he said. "But of course it was much more exciting than Mission Control because of visuals, the visual stimulation you get. Your wonder, awe, excitement – all these feelings and everything just rolled into one."

"The most dynamic part of the mission was probably the landing," he added. "You come into an area you've never seen before, and there are many features on the moon's surface that were visible, visually when you entered, but we hadn't looked at our photographs."

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Apollo 16 was the only NASA mission to target the "highlands", an area of ​​the Moon's southeastern quadrant with hilly and towering terrain, According to the space agency

 Duke examines the surface of a large moon bulb during the Apollo 16 mission. (NASA)

Duke examines the surface of a large moon wave during the Apollo 16 mission. (NASA)

The Apollo 16 lunar module used 71 hours, 2 minutes and 13 seconds on the Moon's surface. During their visit, the Duke and Young explored a Lunar Roving Vehicle, conducted science trials, and collected stone samples.

The couple became part of a very exclusive group – only 12 people have gone on the moon.

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Duke told Fox News that he was humiliated to be elected astronaut . Air Force pilot was one of 19 pilots selected in April 1966 as part of NASA's fifth group of astronauts.

  Charles Duke was the tenth person to go on the moon. (NASA)

Charles Duke was the tenth person to go on the moon. (NASA)

"You were humbled that you were selected, and you were honored that you were elected that the United States trust to fly this multi-million dollar spacecraft and do a job and bring back some science and information" he told Fox News.

The Earth's natural satellite continues to be a source of fascination.

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There have been some high-profile unmanned lunar missions in recent months. Apollo 16 promises from start complex 39, Kennedy Space Center, April 16, 1972, Apollo 16 promises from start complex 39, Kennedy Space Center, April 16, 1972,
(NASA)

For example, China recently became the first country to land a spacecraft on the other side of the moon.

Israel's unmanned Beresheet spacecraft was recently launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on a historic mission to the moon. Beresheet, which is the Hebrew word for "beginning", is expected to land on the moon's surface on April 11th. The spacecraft will also be the first private mission to reach the Moon.

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The United States also has its sights set on the Moon. President Donald Trump wants US astronauts to return to the moon as the basis for future Mars missions, and the administration has cited Moon missions as a key element in the 2019 NASA budget.

  File photo - Apollo 16 astronaut Charles Duke responds to a question during a live television interview on Monday 20 July 2009 at NASA's headquarters in Washington.

File Photo – Apollo 16 astronaut Charles Duke responds to a question during a live television interview on July 20, 2009 at NASA's Washington headquarters.
(NASA / Paul E. Alers)

In a speech last year, Vice President Mike Pence discussed plans for a Lunar Orbital Platform Gateway, a NASA orbital post that will be near the moon. The President of the National Space Council described the goal of putting an American on board the Lunar Orbital Platform by the end of 2024. "We're in the lead for a new golden age for exploration," Pence said.

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The United States is the only country to place astronauts on the moon that have done so by December 1972 during the Apollo 17 mission.

20th July 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the famous Apollo 11 Moon Landing.

Fox News & # 39; Christopher Carbone and Associated Press have contributed to this article.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @ jamesjrogers


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