Charles Duke (October, 1935, North Carolina) is a retired astronaut, that participated in one of the Apollo missions, specifically the Apollo 13 and 17, but most importantly in the Apollo 16, in which he worked with the other 2 NASA astronauts Mattingly and Young, with the objective of getting samples of the moon’s land and other various experiments.
He has a Bachelor of Science in Naval Sciences and a Master Degree in aeronautics.
His fame is due to being the youngest person to walk on the moon, which he did in 1972 at the age of 36. He is also known for being one of the 12 people who have been in the moon.
The news about this man is the recent exhibition opening in Madrid about the journey that made him famous, the Apollo 16, which lately has celebrated its 40th birthday. Here is part of an interview that was made to him about the exhibition and his trip to the moon by the Spanish newspaper El Mundo:
What did you feel in the moment you set foot on the moon?
It was an intense excitement. Many things going through my mind. I am one of the lucky few who has lived that experience. I was not afraid, I felt like at home. I felt that was where I belonged.
Is it easy for an astronaut to get used to gravity?
Initially, I felt dizzy, but hours later the fact of not having gravity ended up being fun. You can move as you want to in a very easy and fun way. Sleep is very refreshing; you do not get tired as it can sometimes happen in a bed. However, in the moon there is gravity. But, if you weigh 90 kilos in the Earth, on the moon you turn up to weigh 15k. The feeling is of being very light.
What is it that you would have liked to do in the moon but you didn’t have time to?
It’s a good question. I wish I had done an experiment with temperature, but we had a problem with the electronic connection, so I could not complete the experiment. It was a great setback.
What attracted more your attention about the moon?
It’s beauty. It has the most impressive desert I have ever seen. The earth was grey with a completely black background. You felt you could touch the absolute darkness.
Mr. Duke, what do you think about the image that was broadcast when the first man set foot on the moon, the one with the flag flying? How is this possible if the moon has no atmosphere?
There is gravity on the moon. The flag was attached by a rod, not waved alone. When stabbed and set, the flag is put up by the rods. If it looked as if it was fluttering it’s because it was wrinkled, as it spent many hours in a box and we could not stretch it anymore.
Will you give any conference these afternoons or in the weekend, at the exhibition in Madrid?
The conference I will give will be tomorrow afternoon and I will talk about how I became an astronaut, my desire to get a job like this, the adventure of becoming an astronaut, I’ll also show a film about my mission, and I will answer questions and talk about what I think about the future.
If you want to see more details about the interview, although it’s in Spanish, you can visit http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/encuentros/invitados/2012/03/27/charles-duke/index.html where all the questions answered by the astronaut can be accessed.