Houston eliminated the Station 7 stop, so Young and Duke completed their stops at Stations 8, 9 and 10, which included Stubby Crater, rays from South Ray Crater and other parts of the Cayley Plains. Their stop at Station 8 was given one hour and with five minutes remaining, Young was finishing with Duke's sample collection bag while at the rear of the rover. Young turned to go around the back of the rover and his leg caught on the right rear fender extension, tearing it from its guide rails. The fender extension fell to the lunar surface.
"There goes the fender,'' Young informed Houston.
The wheel was now exposed to nearly the 11:00 o'clock position. This would result in lunar soil being thrown up and forward while underway. Tony England informed Young and Duke that their time was nearly up and they had to prepare to leave for Station 9. Duke mentioned the fender damage.
"We lost a fender, Tony,'' Duke said. "The pusher-downer fender on the right rear wheel is gone.''
"Roger. Just like the trainer,'' England said matter-of-factly, referring to the damaged fenders that the 1-G trainer experienced. Young, apparently, made no attempt to retrieve the fender extension to see if it could be reinstalled. The Boeing and GM teams in Houston immediately took note of this, and the thermal control engineers knew that it would aggravate dust accumulation and therefore heat dissipation from the TV camera, batteries and LCRU, not to mention dust raining down on the astronauts themselves as they drove. The astronauts climbed onto the rover, buckled up and proceeded to Station 9. They made no remarks about possible dust being thrown up. As they looked back up Stone Mountain, the two men were amazed at the rover's climbing ability.
"Tony, I bet you that rover would have climbed right on up to the top of Stone,'' Duke said to Tony England at Mission Control in Houston.
"Sure it would,'' Young concurred.
"This is some machine, I'll tell you','' Duke exclaimed. During training at KSC, Young and Duke were advised to practice slowly and carefully approaching rocks so that undisturbed soil samples could be collected and the rocks photographed without soil being kicked up onto them by their boots. The astronauts were amused by this advice and described the procedure as "sneaking up on a rock.'' This was very important to the geologists in the Backroom in Houston, but Duke and Young couldn't help having fun with it. As Young slowly walked up to a rock at their Station 9 stop, Duke told CapCom Tony England to be quiet while they proceeded to sneak up on the rock. Unfortunately, Fendell did not know which direction they had gone and was unsuccessfully trying to find them. Fendell was shaking his head as he panned the camera, when he finally found them.
"The first Great Lunar Rock Hunt and we missed it,'' England said, expressing disappointment. The geologists had wanted to see how Young and Duke approached the sample site, though Duke had been careful to photo-document Young's sampling effort. Knowing the TV camera was finally on the two of them, Duke gladly demonstrated Young's approach.
"Tony, John was sneaking just like this,'' Duke said, mimicking Young's motions. "He really got up to it ... It didn't even know he was coming.''
There were smiles all around Mission Control and in the science Backroom. It was a rare moment of levity during the mission of Apollo 16. The surface of the Moon is totally unforgiving, and the risk of an equipment failure vital to the astronauts' survival was an ever-present danger. The SPS anomaly and the failure of the circularization burn to take place as planned still had Houston nervous, and Apollo 13 was not far from everyone's mind. But for now, the mission was going well and Young and Duke were in high spirits. They spent thirty-five minutes finishing
their sample collection and taking photographs. As they got on the rover, England informed Young that Battery 2 was warm, and advised configuring the circuit breakers to draw power only from Battery 1. Both front and rear steering were active though. Young and Duke kept up a running commentary with England about the sights along their return traverse, with Young remarking that Cayley Plain was anything but a plain, being in fact quite an undulating surface with countless blocks he had to constantly try to avoid. Duke remarked that he had spotted a crater that reminded him of a sinkhole crater he and England had seen in Kapoho, Hawaii, on one of the geology training sessions. England asked Duke to swing the DAC around to film it, but Duke admitted he did not have the strength in his hands to reach out and move it. Duke then suggested to Young a novel approach to photograph the crater.
"Let John turn over that way and as he swings around, I'll give you a couple of pictures of it. Can you make a 360, John?'' Young agreed, and suddenly realized what they were accomplishing.
"That would be a neat way to take a pan, Charlie,'' Young said. "That's just what I'm doing, taking a pan of that thing. Okay, we got it!'' Duke stated with obvious satisfaction.
"Okay," Young affirmed.
"Great. We got a pan from the rover, Tony, with a 360,'' Duke finished. They continued their trek back to the LM.
"Sure is comforting to be able to hear those old wheels turning,'' Young told England. "You can hear them; they make a rumble.''
"We can't hear them, but we can imagine it's comforting," England admitted.
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