Such Rich History

The one of the best tools that I have in my tool cabinet is the duct tape. It helped me secure the mesh on the dryer, it helped me secure the cables on the back on my `home theater` and just today it helped me secure my crumbling rake.

I had no idea that the duct tape has been used to save a mission on the moon!! Check this out……..

The date was Dec. 11, 1972. Astronauts Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt had just landed their lunar module Challenger in a beautiful mountain-ringed valley named Taurus-Littrow on the edge of the Sea of Serenity. Mission planners chose the site for its geological variety:


Within hours the two astronauts were down the ladder loading a raft of geology tools and experiments onto their Lunar Roving Vehicle or “moonbuggy.” Everything was going smoothly until Cernan brushed against the rover; a hammer in the shin pocket of his spacesuit caught the buggy’s right rear fender and tore half of it off.

Cernan: “Oh, you won’t believe it. There goes a fender.”

Schmitt: “Oh, shoot!”

Now, a moonbuggy in Alabama can go just fine without a fender, but in Taurus-Littrow a missing fender was a potential disaster. The reason is moondust. When a rover rolls across the lunar surface, it kicks up a plume of moondust in its wake. (Astronauts called them “rooster tails.”) Without a fender, the rover would be showered by a spray of dark, abrasive grit. White spacesuits blackened by dust could turn into dangerous absorbers of the fierce lunar sun with astronauts overheating inside. Sharp-edged dust wiped off visors would scratch the glass, making helmets difficult to see out of. Moondust also had an uncanny way of working itself into hinges, latches and joints, rendering them useless.


Cernan: “And I hate to say it, but I’m going to have to take some time to try … to get that fender back on. Jack, is the tape under my seat, do you remember?” (He’s referring to a roll of ordinary, gray duct tape.)

Schmitt: “Yes.”

Cernan: “Okay. I can’t say I’m very adept at putting fenders back on. But I sure don’t want to start without it. I’m just going to put a couple of pieces of good old-fashioned American gray tape on it…(and) see whether we can’t make sure it stays.”

In spite of his thick gloves, Cernan managed to unroll and tear off the needed pieces, but moondust foiled his first repair:

Cernan: “…good old-fashioned gray tape doesn’t want to stick very well.” (At a post flight briefing he explained: “Because there was dust on everything, once you got a piece of tape off the roll, the first thing the tape stuck to was dust; and then it didn’t stick to anything else.”)

His second attempt succeeded, however. “I am done!” crowed Cernan. “If that fender stays on … I’d like some sort of mending award.” And with that, they were off.


When next-generation astronauts go to the Moon, they’ll know a lot more about moondust than their Apollo predecessors. But you can bet there’s one thing they won’t leave home without—”good old-fashioned American gray tape.”

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