On April 16, 1972, Apollo 16 Blasted Off

NASA (Public Domain)
NASA (Public Domain) / NASA (Public Domain)

On April 16, 1972, Apollo 16 departed for the moon. It was the second-to-last crewed mission to the moon. It was also the second time astronauts drove the Lunar Roving Module, also known as the coolest dune buggy in the universe.

When the Lunar Module (LM) reached the moon, astronauts John Young and Charlie Duke spent just shy of 72 hours on the surface. They spent more than 20 hours on EVAs, driving the lunar rover, setting up surface experiments, and gathering samples. In one poignant moment, Duke left a photo of his family on the lunar surface. He also named several locations for them: "Cat Crater" was named for his sons Charles and Thomas (Get it? Charles And Thomas Crater?), and Dot Crater was named for his wife Dotty.

In a less emotional moment, Young fell down, giving us a great lesson in the problems of low-gravity locomotion. Watch:

While Young and Duke worked on the moon, Command Module Pilot Ken Mattingly remained in orbit. You may remember Mattingly as the intended pilot of Apollo 13, who was grounded after being exposed to the measles. This time Mattingly achieved his objective, and even made a deep-space EVA on the flight home, recovering film canisters from the outside of the spacecraft.

Here's computer-stabilized footage of the rover in action:

And here's NASA's delightfully dated documentary Nothing So Hidden, dealing with the mission.