With a successful first mission in the books, the crew of Apollo 12 was under less pressure.
The journey was just as perilous. But the second American moon landing was less dramatic than the first, and there’s no better example of the change in mood than what the mission’s commander said as he stepped out onto the surface: “Whoopie! Man, that may have been a small one for Neil, but that’s a long one for me.”
That was Pete Conrad, the Neil Armstrong of Apollo 12. Conrad was indeed shorter than Armstrong, but the astronaut was trying to make a point. Back on Earth, a reporter had suggested that NASA told astronauts what to say, and Conrad was determined to prove her wrong.
Conrad could only get away with this because Apollo 12 was a sequel. The United States had pulled off the impossible feat four months earlier. The mission had been a massive success, and its crew members were deemed heroes.