Apollo Meets Zeus

My cousin used to say, “It could be worse, you could be on fire.” Well, ain’t that the truth! My job, no matter how occasionally stressful, is just a walk on the beach compared to other professionals. Take the crew of Apollo 12, which blasted off the launchpad on Nov. 14, 1969. Approximately 32 seconds and 52 seconds into flight, the Saturn rocket was hit by lightning. Electricity and telemetry was temporarily cut as the spacecraft hurtled through orbit. Astronauts Charles Conrad Jr., Alan Bean, and Richard Gordon Jr. reacted to the atmospheric discharge with a very human, “What the hell was that?” Together with Mission Control, they evaluated their ship for malfunctions and continued the flight. The crew was laughing hysterically after first staging. As one crewman told Houston, “We’re all chuckled to death here over the [indicator] lights … there were so many on we couldn’t read ’em.”


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