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Ladies and gentlemen! (ride)... It's difficult to believe that forty years have gone by since that old Navy crew landed on Oceanus Procellarum 43 degrees West. It was a crew I knew very well. I had been at the backup commander of Pete's "seven days or bust" [allusione al logo della Gemini V] flight of Gemini V with Gordo Cooper. And every crew spent a great deal of time together preparing for those flights. Dick and Pete [Richard Gordon e Charles "Pete" Conrad] were the backup crew for my Gemini VII flight with Dave Scott and I was Pete's backup on Gemini XI with Bill Anders backing up Dick.
And that flight incorporated a very, very challenging rendezvous and the four of us spent a lot of time out on the beach drawing possible trajectories on the sand. Dick and I toured South America together, trying to describe the results of our space exploration in fractured Spanish, and Al and I [toured?] North America for... looking for the perfect marinara sauce (risate del pubblico).
Now I know each one of 'em well enough to tell you they really were a good crew and the really could work together (applauso del pubblico).
It's often been said that Apollo was about demonstrating to the world that humans could depart Earth's gravity, navigate between celestial bodies, land on a place other than earth and somehow find their way home again and celebrate. Apollos 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 had, one at a time, pretty well accomplished those goals. But there was one thing that hadn't been demonstrated, and that thing was landing at a specific point on another celestial body, and Apollo 12 would try to prove that was doable. And as you've heard tonight, they did it amazingly well. To the surprise of many, I'm sure (ride)!
They took the obligatory tourist pictures and snitched some pieces of the Surveyor [la sonda automatica Surveyor 3, arrivata sulla Luna due anni prima] to bring back for "show and tell". They made it look like Apollo 12 was fun, but... It was, but Apollo 12 was really a superb engineering accomplishment. In fact they probably made it look too easy. Many folks back on Earth began to suspect that space travel wasn't all that difficult. But certainly here in this room all of you know that's just not true. Four decades later, it's still very, very tough.
Apollo 12 set some records worth remembering. Of course you've heard about the two bolts of lightning that they encountered and you've seen some videos of that. But you just imagine yourself in a spacecraft, seven and a half million pounds of thrust pushing you from behind upward into a black sky, and instantaneously all the lights go out and all the warning lights come on, you've lost your fuel cells, the attitude indicator is rolling end over end. Imagine how you might respond to that situation. And what you think Pete was doing? He was laughing! It's in the book. And if you think that Americans sometimes don't learn from their mistakes, we don't launch into that kind of weather anymore!
Dick was the first to spot a lunar module on the surface of the moon from lunar orbit. Through a one-power telescope. Only Americans you could sell a one-power telescope to (risate del pubblico)! Al was the first [incomprensibile] to load plutonium into a radioisotopic thermal-electric generator on the lunar surface. I'm not sure they'd allow us to do that any more.
Apollo 12 was the first to have a mascot. The mascot was a gorilla. The gorilla was last seen at the prelaunch breakfast with the crew and the assertion that the mascot took the place of one of the crewmen has never been confirmed (risate del pubblico). Pete... there was only one Pete. He brought his humour to spaceflight, and if he's listening in now, I'm sure he's chuckling. So I salute you, Apollo 12. Well done (fa il saluto militare).