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Charles Duke

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Title: Charles Duke  
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Subject: List of Apollo astronauts, Apollo 16, Apollo program, NASA Astronaut Group 5, Ken Mattingly
Collection: 1935 Births, 1972 in Spaceflight, 20Th-Century American Businesspeople, Admiral Farragut Academy Alumni, American Astronauts, American Aviators, American Businesspeople, American Christians, American Test Pilots, Apollo Program Astronauts, Articles Containing Video Clips, Aviators from North Carolina, Distinguished Eagle Scouts, Eagle Scouts, Flight Instructors, Industrial College of the Armed Forces Alumni, Living People, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Alumni, People from Charlotte, North Carolina, People from Lancaster, South Carolina, People from New Braunfels, Texas, People Who Have Walked on the Moon, Recipients of the Distinguished Service Medal (United States), Recipients of the Legion of Merit, Recipients of the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School Alumni, United States Air Force Astronauts, United States Air Force Generals, United States Astronaut Hall of Fame Inductees, United States Naval Academy Alumni
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Charles Duke

Charles M. Duke, Jr.
Charles Duke official NASA portrait,
21 September 1971
NASA Astronaut
Nationality American
Status Retired
Born (1935-10-03) October 3, 1935
Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.
Other names
Charles Moss Duke, Jr.
Other occupation
Fighter pilot, test pilot
USNA, B.S. 1957
MIT, M.S. 1964
Rank Brigadier General, USAF
Time in space
11d 01h 51m
Selection 1966 NASA Group 5
Total EVAs
Total EVA time
20 hours 15 minutes
Missions Apollo 16
Mission insignia
Retirement January 1, 1976
recorded September 2013

Charles Moss "Charlie" Duke, Jr. (born October 3, 1935), (Brig Gen, USAF, Ret.), is an American engineer, retired U.S. Air Force officer, test pilot, and a former astronaut for NASA. As Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 16 in 1972, he became the tenth and youngest person to walk on the Moon.

A former test pilot, Duke has logged 4,147 hours flying time, which includes 3,632 hours in jet aircraft; and 265 hours in space, plus 20 hours and 15 minutes of extravehicular activity.

A resident of New Braunfels, Texas, he is currently Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.


  • Biography 1
    • Early life and education 1.1
    • Military service 1.2
    • NASA career 1.3
      • Apollo 16 1.3.1
    • Personal life 1.4
  • Organizations 2
  • Awards and honors 3
  • TV and film 4
  • Physical description 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Bibliography 8
  • External links 9


Early life and education

Duke was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, on October 3, 1935. He attended Lancaster High School in Lancaster, South Carolina, and graduated as valedictorian from Admiral Farragut Academy in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1953. He was active in the Boy Scouts of America and earned its highest rank, Eagle Scout. Duke received a Bachelor of Science degree in Naval Sciences from the United States Naval Academy in 1957, and a Master of Science degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1964.

Military service

Duke was commissioned upon graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1957. Entering the U.S. Air Force, he went to fighter interceptor pilot with the 526th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Ramstein Air Base in West Germany.

After graduating from the Aerospace Research Pilot School in September 1965, Duke stayed on as an instructor teaching control systems and flying in the F-101 Voodoo, F-104 Starfighter, and T-33 Shooting Star aircraft.

Following his NASA retirement, Duke entered the Air Force Reserve and served as Mobilization Augmentee to the Commander, Air Force Basic Military Training Center and to the Commander, USAF Recruiting Service. He graduated from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in 1978. He was promoted to Brigadier General in 1979, and retired in June 1986.[1]

NASA career

Duke as Apollo 11 CAPCOM in 1969

In April 1966, Duke was one of the 19 selected for NASA's fifth group of astronauts. In 1969, he was a member of the astronaut support crew for Apollo 10. He then served as CAPCOM for Apollo 11, the first landing on the Moon, where his distinctive Southern drawl became familiar to audiences around the world. As CAPCOM, he became the voice of a Mission Control nervous by a long landing that almost expended all of the Lunar Module Eagle's fuel. Duke's first words to the Apollo 11 crew on the surface of the Moon were flustered, "Roger, Twank... Tranquility, we copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We're breathing again. Thanks a lot!"[2]

Duke was backup Lunar Module Pilot on Apollo 13, however shortly before the mission he caught German measles from a friend's child and inadvertently exposed the prime crew to the disease. As Ken Mattingly had no natural immunity to the disease, Mattingly was then replaced as Command Module Pilot by Jack Swigert. Mattingly would be reassigned as Command Module Pilot of Duke's flight, Apollo 16.

Duke served as Lunar Module Pilot of Apollo 16 in 1972 where he and John W. Young landed at the Descartes Highlands and conducted three EVAs, making Duke the tenth person to walk upon the surface of the Moon. He also served as backup Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 17. Duke retired from NASA in December 1975.[3]

Apollo 16

I'm proud to be an American, I'll tell you. What a program and what a place and what an experience.

Duke, saluting the U.S. flag on the surface of the Moon, April 21, 1972.[4]
Duke on lunar EVA during Apollo 16, April 1972
Family picture Duke left on the Moon
Duke recovers a hammer he had dropped on the lunar surface

Apollo 16 (April 16–27, 1972) was launched from John F. Kennedy Space Center and was the fifth manned lunar landing mission. The crew consisted of John W. Young as Commander, Ken Mattingly as Command Module Pilot, and Duke as Lunar Module Pilot. Apollo 16 was the first scientific expedition to inspect, survey, and sample materials and surface features in the Descartes region of the rugged lunar highlands. John Young commenced the then-record setting lunar surface stay of 71 hours and 14 minutes by maneuvering the lunar module Orion to a landing on the rough Cayley Plains. In three subsequent excursions onto the lunar surface, he logged 20 hours and 15 minutes in extravehicular activities involving the emplacement and activation of scientific equipment and experiments, the collection of nearly 213 lb (96 kg) of rock and soil samples, and the evaluation and use of Rover-2 over the roughest surface yet encountered on the moon.

Other Apollo 16 achievements included the largest payload placed in lunar orbit (76,109 lb or 34,595 kg); first cosmic ray detector deployed on the lunar surface; first lunar observatory with the far UV camera; and longest in-flight EVA from a command module during transearth coast (1 hour and 13 minutes). The Apollo 16 mission was concluded with a Pacific Ocean splashdown and subsequent recovery by USS Ticonderoga.

Personal life

Duke has been married to Dorothy Meade Claiborne of hunting, fishing, reading, and playing golf. Duke is an Eagle Scout and recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America.[5][6]

Duke became a committed Christian after his Apollo 16 flight, and is active in prison ministry.[7]


Duke in San Diego in February 2009

Awards and honors

Duke in Technikmuseum Speyer, Germany on October 2, 2008

In 1973, Duke received an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy from the University of South Carolina. He also received an Honorary Doctorate of humanities from Francis Marion University in 1990. Other honors include:

TV and film

Duke is one of the astronauts featured in the book and documentary In the Shadow of the Moon. At the end of the documentary, in response to Moon landing hoax theories, he says "We've been to the Moon nine times. Why would we fake it nine times, if we faked it?"

In the 1998 HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon, Duke was portrayed by J. Downing.

In Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D he was voiced by Scott Glenn who portrayed Alan Shepard in The Right Stuff.

Physical description

  • Weight: 155 lb (70 kg)
  • Height: 5 ft 11½ in (1.82 m)
  • Hair: Brown
  • Eyes: Brown[9]

See also


  1. ^ "Professional Profile". Retrieved 2015-05-13. 
  2. ^ "Footagevault, Project MOCR". Retrieved 2015-05-13. 
  3. ^ "Astronaut Bio: Charles Duke 05/94". NASA Johnson Space Center. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  4. ^ "International Space Hall of Fame :: New Mexico Museum of Space History :: Inductee Profile". Retrieved 2015-05-13. 
  5. ^ Townley, Alvin. Legacy of Honor: The Values and Influence of America's Eagle Scouts. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 79.  
  6. ^ "Distinguished Eagle Scouts" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-11-04. 
  7. ^ "Video: Charlie Duke - Interviews with the men on the moon".  
  8. ^ "Charlie Duke | Astronaut Scholarship Foundation". Retrieved 2015-05-13. 
  9. ^ "Astronaut Bio: Charles Moss Duke, Jr. (Brigadier General, USAF (Reserve))". Retrieved 2015-05-13. 


  • Moonwalker by Charlie & Dotty Duke, published by Thomas Nelson Inc, April 1990, ISBN 0-8407-9106-2

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