P. (Pete) Conrad (Capt., USN, Ret.), the third human to walk
on the moon, died late Thursday night in a hospital in Ojai,
CA of injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident. He was 69.
was on a trip to Monterey, CA with his wife, Nancy, and friends
when his motorcycle crashed on a turn, according to the California
Highway Patrol. Conrad, who lived in Huntington Beach, CA, near
Los Angeles, died later at the hospital of internal injuries.
made history on November 19, 1969, when, as Commander of the
Apollo 12 mission, he and Astronaut Alan Bean set their lunar
module "Intrepid" down on the moon's Ocean of Storms
to achieve the second of six landings in the Apollo program.
five hours later, parodying the historic words of Neil Armstrong
four months earlier when Armstrong became the first human to
set foot on the moon, Conrad said, "Whoopee! Man, that
may have been a small one for Neil, but that's a long one for
me". Conrad and Bean conducted two excursions on the moon
totaling almost eight hours, in which they set up various experiment
packages and retrieved more than 75 pounds of lunar rocks and
soil samples. They also recovered a camera and other gear from
the nearby Surveyor 3 probe, which had landed on the moon in
was an explorer and a hero of the space frontier," said
George W.S. Abbey, Director of the Johnson Space Center.
Gemini to Apollo, to his command of the first crew to live aboard
an American space station, Pete was a true professional. He
combined skill and ability with wit and humor to become one
of the courageous pioneers who took humankind beyond the bounds
of our planet. We will miss him greatly. Our heartfelt sympathy
goes out to his wife, Nancy and their family," Abbey said.
was selected in the second class of NASA astronauts in 1962
following a distinguished career as a Navy test pilot and instructor.
Following his graduation from Princeton University in 1953,
Conrad entered the Navy and attended test pilot school at Patuxent
River, MD, where he was assigned as a Project Test Pilot.
being selected as an astronaut, Conrad was assigned to fly on
the Gemini 5 mission as the co-pilot to Gordon Cooper. In August,
1965, Cooper and Conrad spent what was then a record eight days
in orbit, perfecting techniques for use in later lunar missions
and proving the capability of astronauts to spend more than
a week in space.
then commanded the Gemini 11 mission in September 1966, in which
he and co-pilot Richard Gordon established the fastest rendezvous
and docking in history, linking their Gemini spacecraft with
an Agena target vehicle before establishing a new altitude record
of almost 850 miles above the Earth.
Conrad was joined by Bean and Gordon on the Apollo 12 mission
in November 1969, forming an all-Navy crew for their Command
Module "Yankee Clipper" and their Lunar Module "Intrepid".
Conrad and Bean proved that pinpoint landings could be made
on the lunar surface and conducted the first significant science
operations during their 31 hours on the Ocean of Storms.
fourth and final space flight occurred in 1973 as the Commander
of the first crew to live and work on America's first space
station, Skylab. Conrad, Paul Weitz and Joseph Kerwin were launched
on a modified Saturn rocket on May 25, 1973, 11 days after the
station itself was launched. During Skylab's climb to orbit,
one of its solar arrays was torn off and the other was stuck
in a closed position by debris.
on orbit, Conrad and his crew mates freed the remaining solar
array on Skylab and set up a sunshade to help cool the station
for the remainder of its lifetime on orbit. He also conducted
a space walk with Weitz late in the mission to retrieve film
packages and perform other maintenance work. In all, Conrad
and his crew spent 28 days in space, establishing another endurance
record at the time.
left NASA and the Navy in l974 to pursue a career in private
industry. Conrad first served as Vice President of American
Television and Communications Corporation, responsible for the
operation and development of cable television systems. In 1976,
Conrad became Vice President of McDonnell Douglas Corporation
and later took on the responsibility for all commercial and
military sales for the Douglas Aircraft Company.
an eye toward the commercialization of space and the exploration
of Mars, Conrad worked on the development of new spacecraft
and space transporation systems with McDonnell Douglas and a
California research firm called Universal Space Lines.
Conrad's numerous awards are the Congressional Space Medal of
Honor, two NASA Distinguished Service Medals, two NASA Exceptional
Service medals, two Navy Distinguished Service Medals and two
Distinguished Flying Crosses. He was enshrined in the Aviation
Hall of Fame in 1980.
is survived by his wife, three sons and seven grandchildren.
A son preceded him in death.