Mission Control

Charlie Duke on moon

Questacon was proud to support the recent tour by Apollo 16 astronaut Charlie Duke and NASA flight director Gerry Griffin.

Charlie and Gerry are both former USAF pilots and hold degrees in aeronautics and astronautics. They joined NASA in the 1960s in the build up to the Apollo missions to the Moon.

Charlie was support crew member for Apollo 10, capsule communicator (CAPCOM) for Apollo 11’s Moon landing and backup crew member for Apollo 13 and 17. On the Apollo 16 mission he spent three days on the Moon with John Young and together they drove more than 26 km in the lunar rover.

Gerry was flight director in charge of the “Gold” team of mission controllers at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston. They were at the consoles for two launches (Apollo 12 and 15) and for three of the six lunar landings (Apollo 14, 16 and 17). Gold team played a key role in the safe recovery of the Apollo 13 crew after their mid-flight explosion.

The events included a screening of Mission Control: the Unsung Heroes of Apollo and the live appearances by Charlie and Gerry were hosted by Prof Lisa Harvey-Smith.

Charlie and Gerry spoke of their pride at “being at the pointy end” of the combined efforts of 400 000 people working on project Apollo. They recalled sorrow at the deaths of their colleagues in the Apollo 1 fire and honoured the recent passing of their friends Gene Cernan (Apollo 17) and John Young (Apollo 16).

The tour visited Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth and was presented by Live on Stage Australia. Gerry is also visiting the Carnarvon Space and Technology Museum in Western Australia.

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