Flown Apollo 12 CM translational hand controller from CDR Conrad's personal collection
Flown Apollo 12 Command Module translational hand controller T-grip used by Commander Charles Conrad in guiding the 'Yankee Clipper' during the second lunar landing mission, measuring approximately 3.25″ x 2″ x 1″, mounted on a wooden plaque, reading: "Apollo 12, Nov. 14-22, 1969, Translational Hand Controller." Includes a handwritten letter of provenance on one of Conrad's personal notecards, signed "Charles Conrad, Jr., Cdr. Apollo XII," in full: "This was the Translational Hand Controller aboard Yankee Clipper (CSM 108) during the flight to the Moon, 14-24 November, 1969." In fine condition.
This came from the commander's side of the Apollo 12 Command Module, where it could be used to pilot the spacecraft: pulling/pushing the controller forward and back moved the spacecraft up and down, pushing it left and right moved the spacecraft left and right, and turning it left or right moved the spacecraft forward or backward. The controller also had an important function during launch: punching it forward and twisting it would initiate a manual abort sequence, separating the Command Module from the Saturn launch vehicle. This is especially relevant to Conrad's mission, Apollo 12, as the spacecraft was hit by lightning 37 seconds after launch, causing numerous alarms and warning lights to go off: 'I got three fuel cell lights, an AC bus light, a fuel cell disconnect, AC bus overload 1 and 2, Main Bus A and B out,' Conrad urgently radioed to Mission Control.
Conrad must have been gripping this controller tightly as they contemplated aborting the mission—this sequence of warnings had never come up in their training, but as long as the rocket seemed to be in good shape, he held back. Luckily, quick-thinking EECOM John Aaron has seen similar problems in a prior simulation, and issued an obscure command: 'Try SCE to AUX.' Both the flight director and the CAPCOM Gerald P. Carr asked him to repeat the recommendation. Aaron repeated himself and Carr responded 'What the hell's that?' Yet he relayed the order to the crew: 'Apollo 12, Houston. Try SCE to auxiliary.' LMP Alan Bean flipped the correct switch within the Command Module and the failing systems were restored, allowing the mission to continue. As a result, Conrad would become the third human to walk on the lunar surface.