Apollo Missions

Apollo 1 was to be the first crewed mission of the Apollo Program. Planned as the first Earth orbital test of the Apollo Command and Service Modules it was to launch on February 21, 1967. However the mission never flew as a cabin fire on January 27 killed all three crew members; Virgil ‘Gus’ Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee. After the incident all manned Apollo flights were suspended for 20 months while the Command Module was re-designed.

Apollo 7: October 11 – October 22, 1968. Apollo 7 was the first mission in the Apollo Program to carry a crew into space. Apollo 7 fulfilled Apollo 1’s mission of testing the Apollo Command and Service Modules in Earth orbit. The crew consisted of Walter Schirra, Donn Eisele and Walter Cunningham. This was the first time a Saturn rocket put a crew in space as well as being the first three-person American space mission. The flight was considered a complete success, validating all spacecraft systems, thus giving NASA the confidence to send Apollo 8 around the Moon but three months later.

Apollo 8: December 21 – December 27, 1968. The second manned Apollo mission became the first manned spacecraft to leave low Earth orbit, reach the Moon, orbit it, and return. The crew of Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders were the first humans to witness Earthrise and escape the gravity of the Earth. Apollo 8 was the first crewed launch of the Saturn V rocket and their Christmas Eve television broadcast from Lunar orbit was, at the time, the most watched television program ever.

Apollo 9: March 3 – March 13, 1969. Apollo 9 was the first flight of the Apollo Command and Service Modules with the Grumman lunar Module. The crew of James McDivitt, David Scott and Rusty Schweikart spent 10 days in low Earth orbit testing several aspects critical to Landing on the Moon. These included testing the Lunar Module’s engines, life support and navigation systems and performing docking maneuvers. The first manned flight of the LM proved it was spaceworthy and prepared for its ultimate goal of landing on the Moon.

Apollo 10: May 18 – May 26, 1969. Apollo 10 was the second Apollo mission to orbit the Moon. Essentially a ‘dress rehearsal’ for the first Moon landing, the crew of Thomas Stafford, John Young and Eugene Cernan, tested all of the components and procedures, just short of actually landing. The Lunar Module was flown in a descent orbit within 8 miles of the Lunar surface and then successfully staged. The success of Apollo 10 enabled the first Lunar landing to be attempted but two months later.

Apollo 11: July 16 – July 24, 1969. This mission was the spaceflight that landed the first two humans on  another world, Neil Armstrong and ‘Buzz’ Aldrin, on the Moon’s Sea of Tranquility. The two Americans landed in the Long Island built Lunar Module ‘Eagle’ on July 20, 1969. They spent about 2 ½ hours together outside the spacecraft on the Lunar surface and collected 47.5 pounds of Lunar material to bring back to Earth. Michael Collins remained in the Command Module in Lunar orbit before being rejoined by Armstrong and Aldrin almost a day later. Armstrong’s first step onto the Moon was broadcast on live TV to a global audience. It is considered to be one of the greatest achievements of mankind.

12: November 14 – November 20, 1969. Launched just four months after Apollo 11, ‘Pete’ Conrad and Alan Bean performed just over one day seven hours of Lunar surface activity on the Moon’s ‘Ocean of Storms’, while Richard Gordon remained in Lunar orbit. Unlike Apollo 11, Apollo 12 achieved a precise landing at their expected location, the site of the Surveyor 3 unmanned probe. One one moonwalk they visited the old Surveyor and removed some parts for return to Earth for analysis.

Apollo 13:  April 11 – April 17, 1970. With the crew of James Lovell, Fred Haise and ‘Jack’ Swigert, Apollo 13 was intended to be the third manned Lunar landing. However on April 13, fortunately on the way to the Moon, an oxygen tank exploded crippling the Service Module upon which the Command Module depended for power and life support. This led to an immediate abort of the Lunar landing. Thus the Lunar Module was pressed into  service as a lifeboat and a tugboat, a role never anticipated for it. Despite great hardship caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat, shortage of cooling water and the critical need to make makeshift repairs to the carbon dioxide removal system, the crew returned safely to Earth six days after launch.

Apollo 14: January 31 – February 9, 1971. Apollo 14 was the third mission to successfully land on the Moon. With the crew of Alan Shepard, Stuart Roosa and Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 landed in the Fra Mauro Formation, the destination of Apollo 13. This was the last of the ‘H’ missions with only a two day stay on the Moon and with only two Lunar EVA’s, or Moonwalks. During their two EVA’s the crew collected a total of over 94 pounds of rocks and several scientific experiments were performed. Shepard, the only Project Mercury astronaut to make it to the Moon, demonstrated hitting a golfball on the lunar surface with a makeshift club.

Apollo 15: July 26 – August 7, 1971.  The first ‘J’ mission, with a longer stay on the Moon, was crewed by David Scott, James Irwin and Alfred Worden. This mission had a greater focus on science than the earlier landings and it saw the first use of the Lunar Roving Vehicle. They landed near Hadley Rille and explored the area using the Rover, allowing them to travel much further from the Lunar Module than previous missions. Scott and Irwin spent over 19 hours on the Lunar surface over the course of three EVA’s while covering over 17 miles.

Apollo 16: April 16 – April 27, 1972. The fifth mission to land on the Moon was crewed by John Young, Charles Duke and Ken Mattingly. It was the first mission to land in the Lunar Highlands, the mountainous Descartes Formation. Young and Duke spent almost three days on the Moon including over 20 hours on Moonwalks. In the process they covered over 16 miles in the Lunar roving Vehicle and collected over 211 pounds of Lunar samples for return to Earth.

Apollo 17: December 7 – December 19, 1972. Apollo 17 was the last mission in which humans traveled to and walked on the Moon. With a crew of Eugene Cernan, Ronald Evans and Harrison Schmitt, it was also the last use of Apollo hardware for its original purpose. This mission was also the first manned night launch and final manned launch of a Saturn V rocket. Three days were spent on the Lunar surface and the mission had extended scientific capability and saw the third use of the Lunar Roving Vehicle. Apollo