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Charlie Duke: Apollo 11 and Beyond

Charlie Duke: Apollo 11 and Beyond
Category: Articles
Author Name: Ray James
Posted: 07-02-2019

Charlie Duke is best known as the Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 16 in 1972 and as the tenth and youngest person to walk on the lunar surface. In recent years, has made an agreement with NGC to hand-sign designation labels.

Charlie Duke is best known as the Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 16 in 1972 and as the tenth and youngest person to walk on the lunar surface. He is the chairman of the board of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, an organization that has received some support from his hand-signed label agreement with NGC.

Image Courtesy of NGC.com

Early Life

Duke was born Oct 3, 1935 and hails from Charlotte, North Carolina. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Naval Sciences from the US Naval Academy (Annapolis) in 1957. He then entered the Air force where he flew fighter interceptors at Ramstein AFB in West Germany.  In 1964, he graduated with a Master of Science degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1978, he graduated from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout when he was a youth.

Distinguished Career: Apollo 11 and beyond

He entered the U.S. Air Force in 1957. Over his career he has flown advanced and experimental aircraft, served as a test pilot and most famously, as an astronaut. He has logged over 4,000 hours of flight, which includes 265 hours in space. He spent over 20 hours of extravehicular activity while in space. Duke is well-known to have left a photo of his family on the lunar surface during his time on the Apollo 16 mission.

As 1 of 19 men selected for NASA's fifth group of astronauts in 1966, Duke was involved in a support capacity with the Apollo missions 10, 11 and 13.

On the Apollo 11 Mission, the first to ever land a man on the moon, Duke was the CAPCOM (communication officer). He was the sole voice that the Apollo 11 crew heard as Armstrong was making that “one small step” on the lunar surface. If you listen to the transmissions, you can even hear his excited voice as Armstrong confirms “the Eagle has landed.” His voice, and expertise in guiding and communicating with the crew, is now forever tied to this historic moment. 

 He was the Lunar Module Pilot of Apollo 16 in 1972. After a period of uncertainty if they would be able to land the module on the moon due to a vibration of the backup control system, the crew, including Duke, were eventually cleared by Houston to touch down much to their delight. Apollo 16 was the mission where Duke went to the Lunar Surface and did three excursions on the moon with fellow astronaut John Young totaling more than 20 hours of exploration- then a record for time spent on the lunar surface.

In a recent interview with Business Insider, Duke admitted that he had a close call on the moon during that time due to him horsing around and trying to perform what he called, “Moon Olympics.” In trying to perform a high jump, due to the lack of gravity and the extremely heavy life supporting equipment located in his suit, he landed hard on the delicate material making the next few moments (until everything was apparently OK) very tense indeed. Duke was obviously fine, and the entire crew would safely splash down back to Earth.

And Beyond

His prolific career with NASA continued and he was backup Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 17. Duke left NASA at the end of 1975. He returned to the USAF and was promoted to Brigadier General in 1979 and retired June 1986.

He would go on to found two private business of which he is an owner, Duke Investments and Charlie Duke Enterprises. Today, he continues to publicly speak both about his time in space and through his Duke Ministry for Christ.
In 2019 Duke was honored by the Minor Planet Center when asteroid 26382 Charlieduke was named after him.

Charlie Duke Signed NGC Labels

Duke has produced hand-signature labels with Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) which Modern Coin Mart currently has as an exclusive label offering. To ring in the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, we are carrying select NGC graded Apollo 11 inventory from mints around the world in this particularly appropriate Charlie Duke signed Label. Featuring the signature of an American hero, the label also shows Duke standing on the lunar surface, an image taken from the Apollo 16 mission. To date, the labels have been included with certified examples of Apollo 11 Commemorative coins from the United States Mint, the Royal Australian Mint, and from the historic joint set from both the aforementioned Mints, which honors the roles that both countries played in the successful landing of the Mission as well as its broadcasting to millions around the world. High quality Eisenhower dollars which feature an adaptation of the Apollo 11 mission badge on the reverse as well as clad Kennedy half dollars are also available in this space themed label.






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About The Author

Ray James

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