Ten days ago, their Saturn V rocket had blasted Bean and his crew mates out of earth’s gravitational pull. Now their home planet was pulling them back at more than 24,000 miles per hour, twelve times faster than a high-speed rifle bullet. “Boy,” said Bean, “we are really hauling!”
Dick Gordon opened the tunnel to Intrepid, saw his companions floating in a dirty cloud of moon dust, and slammed the hatch closed. He called out, “You guys ain’t gonna mess up my nice clean spacecraft!”
After a total of 31.6 hours on the moon, the Lunar Module ascent stage fired for about 7 minutes placing Intrepid into an orbit of 10 miles by 54 miles.
Most of the remaining moon walk time was spent collecting rock samples, making surface observations such as the small mounds or hills, and taking pictures.
According to the checklist, Bean was allowed 5 minutes to gain his balance and learn to walk on the Moon. Bean was amazed at his new buoyancy saying, “You can jump up in the air…” But Conrad wanted to press on saying, “Hustle, boy, hustle! We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
“Hey, there it is! There it is! Son of a gun, right down the middle of the road! Look out there! I can’t believe it! Fantastic!” Pete Conrad when he saw his landing site.
There was adrenaline in Pete Conrad’s voice as he counted down the last seconds before ignition. He and Bean were still weightless, but their bodies were secured to the cabin floor by harnesses. “Seven, six, five.” Conrad pushed the PROCEED button on the computer, and a moment later Intrepid’s descent engine ignited 50,000 feet above the moon.
At 83 hours mission elapsed time, the long lunar coast was almost over. It was time for the lunar orbit insertion burn. This burn would put Yankee Clipper and Intrepid into lunar orbit.