April 17, 1972

1972: Apollo 16 carried John W. Young, Charles M. Duke, Jr., and Thomas K. Mattingly II from the Kennedy Space Center on the fifth lunar landing mission. The lunar module “Orion” touched down in the moon’s Descartes region on 20 April, lifted off on 24 April, rejoined the “Casper” command module, and landed in the Pacific on 27 April after an 11-day, 2-hour mission. Apollo 16 experienced several minor glitches en route to the Moon. These culminated with a problem with the spacecraft’s main engine that resulted in a six-hour delay in the Moon landing as NASA managers contemplated having the astronauts abort the mission and return to Earth, before deciding the problem could be overcome. Although they permitted the lunar landing, NASA had the astronauts return from the mission one day earlier than planned. (John Young saluting the United States flag while jumping up on the Moon, with the Apollo Lunar Module Orion and Lunar Roving Vehicle in the background. Young later piloted STS-1 in 1981).