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.
"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
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.
"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,