Charles Duke, who today is 83 years old, is part of the 12 American men fortunate enough to have walked on the moon. Duke indeed was the 10th man to step on our natural satellite at only 36 years of age, making him the youngest astronaut to ever perform this feat.
In an interview given to Business Insider, Charlie Duke recalls a moment during the Apollo 16 mission in which he almost lost his life. While, trying to retreat back to the lunar module after having spent a few moments on the lunar surface, Duke decided to engage in what he describes as “Moon Olympics,” performing physical feats that Earth’s gravity would not allow.
Admitting that he was “horsing around”, he recalls doing his best to perform a high jump, launching himself several feet off the lunar surface thanks to the dramatically reduced gravity. Unfortunately, the weight of his suit and life support system strapped to his back proved too much to handle and he crashed onto his back — and the vital systems in his backpack — at a potentially dangerous angle.
“The backpack weighed as much as I did. So I went over backwards,” Duke explained. “It’s a fiberglass shell and it contained all your life-support systems. If it broke, I was dead.”
Fortunately, that did not happen.
Also in a recent interview with the Argentine magazine Viva, in the framework of the 50 years of man’s journey to the Moon, Duke also told his story of leaving a photograph of his family on the moon.
After having landed on the lunar surface, the astronaut left a picture of his family on the surface of the celestial body. “The training for the Apollo mission was very intense and took me away from the family, so when they told me that I was traveling to the Moon, I told them: ‘You come with me.’ And I took them, in a photo. I am the only one who traveled with his family to the Moon,” he said.
The photograph was left wrapped in a plastic with an inscription on the back: ” This is the family of astronaut Charlie Duke from planet Earth who landed on the moon on April 20, 1972.”
Man landed on the moon for the first time on July 20th, 1969. The Apollo 11 , powered by a rocket Saturn V, was launched into space from the space complex Kennedy at Cape Canaveral (Florida) on July 16, 1969.
It reached the lunar surface on July 20 of the same year and the next day two astronauts (Armstrong and Aldrin) walked on the surface of the Moon, where they spent intotal 21 hours 36 minutes and 20 seconds.
On July 22, they returned to Earth.