The Apollo 16 command module

Apollo 16

In 1972 the fifth Moon landing mission was crewed by commander John Young, lunar module pilot Charles Duke and command module pilot Thomas Mattingly.

Young and Duke landed on the Moon's surface in the lunar module, Orion, while Mattingly orbited in Casper, the command module. Young and Duke explored the Descartes region, an area of highlands.

Apollo 16 was the second mission to use the four-wheeled lunar rover.

Photo: The Apollo 16 command module seen from the lunar module (NASA)

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The Apollo 16 command module

About Apollo 16

Astronauts explore the Moon's Descartes region.

About Apollo 16

Apollo 16 was the tenth manned mission in the United States Apollo space program, the fifth and penultimate to land on the Moon and the first to land in the lunar highlands. The second of the so-called "J missions," it was crewed by Commander John Young, Lunar Module Pilot Charles Duke and Command Module Pilot Ken Mattingly. Launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 12:54 PM EST on April 16, 1972, the mission lasted 11 days, 1 hour, and 51 minutes, and concluded at 2:45 PM EST on April 27.

John Young and Charles Duke spent 71 hours—just under three days—on the lunar surface, during which they conducted three extra-vehicular activities or moonwalks, totaling 20 hours and 14 minutes. The pair drove the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), the second produced and used on the Moon, 26.7 kilometers (16.6 mi). On the surface, Young and Duke collected 95.8 kilograms (211 lb) of lunar samples for return to Earth, while Command Module Pilot Ken Mattingly orbited in the Command/Service Module (CSM) above to perform observations. Mattingly spent 126 hours and 64 revolutions in lunar orbit. After Young and Duke rejoined Mattingly in lunar orbit, the crew released a subsatellite from the Service Module (SM). During the return trip to Earth, Mattingly performed a one-hour spacewalk to retrieve several film cassettes from the exterior of the Service Module.

Apollo 16's landing spot in the highlands was chosen to allow the astronauts to gather geologically older lunar material than the samples obtained in the first four landings, which were in or near lunar maria. Samples from the Descartes Formation and the Cayley Formation disproved a hypothesis that the formations were volcanic in origin.

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