With Apollo 11 came one euphoric exultation not only inside the halls of NASA, but in the smallest corners of the entire globe. It was a triumph for all mankind. Apollo 12 came just 4 months after this and there was, while still excitement at being able to go to the moon, it was just less so.
Apollo 11 had been the driving goal for NASA and the federal government. All the resources had been directed to allowing NASA to complete that mission, which involved enormous amounts of funding to develop and build not only the massive Saturn V rocket, but all the supporting projects necessary to achieve the Apollo 11's success.
The landing location had been changed to the Ocean of Storms, so the Lunar Module would land not far from an earlier, non-manned spacecraft, the Surveyor 3. This would be the first and only time that a manned spacecraft would land near an earlier exploration vehicle.
The primary goal of selecting this particular site was to prove without a doubt that an Apollo crew could arrive at a pre-determined specific target, select that target during the final descent and land the Lunar Module as close to it as possible.
This might seem like a relatively easy task to perform today with our GPS tracking systems we can precisely locate our position on the expanse of the entire world to within a foot or two. In the 1960s on the lunar surface, there were no GPS tracking systems. Everything had to be located and identified using the naked eye. Even that was no easy task. Locations on the moon were mostly identified from from photographs taken at higher elevations. In these images, boulders the size of a small house would appear as minute specs on the photographs. Boulders the size of an automobile could easily be overlooked entirely depending on the shadows being cast at the time the photograph had been taken.
Pete Conrad was the first down the ladder on the first EVA. He was not a tall person, and during training the jump from the bottom of the ladder to the ground (over 3') had given him problems. After jumping from that bottom rung to the lunar dust, Houston Control could hear him shouting: "Man, that may have been a small one for Neil, but that's a long one for me."
Once both Conrad and Bean were on the moon's surface they could easily see the Surveyvor III craft not far away. The first tasks at hand were to deploy several experiements, set up the S-band antenna and setup the video camera. Unfortunately, as Bean was setting up the video camera, he accidently pointed the camera directly toward the sun, which permanently burned the vidicon tube making it useless. Without the video feed, Americans failed to tune in and watch as had been experienced with Apollo 11. Although Apollo 13's troubles did bring back audiences, it was short lived and the television audience had been lost.
During the 2 EVAs totaling 7 hours and 50 minutes, Pete Conrad and Alan Bean actually retrieved parts from the unmanned Surveyor 3 that had landed their in April 1967. They spent a total of 31.5 hours on the moon.
Once safely back in the Command Module, the Lunar Module ascent stage was sent back to crash into the lunar surface.
Charles Conrad Jr., Commander
Alan L. Bean, Lunar Module Pilot
Richard F. Gordon Jr., Command Module Pilot
Nov. 14, 1969; 11:22 a.m. EDT
Launch Pad 39A
Yankee Clipper (CM-108)