Apollo Missions to the Moon

what apollo missions went to the moon

Apollo was an ambitious program fraught with difficulty and high costs, which resulted in budget reductions and delays.

This vehicle included three modules – a command module (CM) to house astronaut quarters and flight controls; a service module housing propulsion systems and other systems; and finally a lunar module capable of transporting two astronauts directly to the Moon.

Apollo 8

Apollo 8 became the first spacecraft to leave low Earth orbit and travel towards the Moon, taking astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell on an accelerated schedule after Apollo 1 fire killed all three astronauts during a pre-launch test.

This mission became iconic due to its “Earthrise” image, showcasing what our planet looked like from space. This photo became one of the most widely reproduced space images ever.

Harrison Schmitt served as geologist on this Apollo mission that landed in Oceanus Procellarum region and conducted a detailed geological survey. Additionally, this mission marked the first test of lunar rover; an unmanned vehicle traveled independently of all others before returning with 43 kilograms of samples and surveying areas that would later be explored by Apollo 17. Additionally, this was the only mission without either commander or command module pilot onboard.

Apollo 9

Apollo 9 astronauts conducted trials of their lunar lander, which could travel some distance away from their spaceship. This allowed the crew to travel farther from Earth than ever before while planting the US flag and collecting samples of lunar rock.

This mission marked the second time a man had ventured into space. Its primary goal was an engineering test of the lunar module (LM), including an overall inspection of launch vehicle and spacecraft systems. A secondary goal included conducting an active rendezvous and docking exercise between it, the command module (CM), and service module.

Apollo 10

Thomas Stafford, John Young and Eugene Cernan performed the first manned test flight of the entire Apollo spacecraft system during this mission – serving as a dress rehearsal for Apollo 11. Docking their Charlie Brown command module with Snoopy lunar module was accomplished within seconds.

They spent 71 hours exploring the lunar surface searching for volcanic rocks in Descartes highlands. Furthermore, they traversed through Van Allen belts – giant doughnut-shaped regions surrounding our planet with harmful radiation levels – on their long journey back home.

Assembling their spacecraft in an aluminium shell and choosing a trajectory that minimized time spent in space belts, they successfully completed two space walks (EVAs). Conspiracy theorists often point out that you won’t see any stars visible in Apollo photos because their missions took place during daytime when dark skies would obscure any signs of stars in photos taken then.

Apollo 11

Details: Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first humans to step onto the moon, an historic event witnessed by more than 530 million viewers worldwide on live TV. Their mission fulfilled President Kennedy’s 1961 goal by becoming history-making pioneers who could take us there themselves.

On July 20th they arrived in the Sea of Tranquility region of the Moon and spent approximately two hours setting up experiments and collecting samples before leaving to return to Earth. A seismometer and laser reflector were deployed which allowed astronomical observatories on Earth to measure distance between Moon and Earth.

Once back at the lunar module, they rejoined their command and service modules for the return trip back to Earth. Following splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, they spent several days quarantining before being welcomed by President Nixon upon their arrival back into United States territory.

Apollo 12

On the Apollo 12 mission, Charles “Pete” Conrad and Alan Bean landed on another part of the Moon than did Apollo 11, visiting NASA’s Surveyor 3 probe that had touched down two years earlier.

On the lunar surface, astronauts took photographs and set up a nuclear-powered ALSEP station to collect long-term seismic and solar wind flux data from the Moon. Gordon conducted interior survey from Command/Service Module Yankee Clipper while Conrad and Bean conducted multispectral photo surveys.

Apollo 13 was supposed to include a lunar landing, but 56 hours into their mission an oxygen tank on the service module exploded, forcing them to use the lunar module as a lifeboat and circle the Moon without actually landing before returning safely home.

Apollo 13

Details: While this mission merely orbited the moon instead of landing directly, its crew managed to take some incredible photographs that are widely credited with inspiring environmental activism. Astronauts John Young and Charles Duke in particular captured a view from space of Earth that is widely considered instrumental to helping create environmental consciousness on our planet.

It also demonstrated the capability of the Command Module to safely reenter Earth’s atmosphere and splash down after such a long flight, sparking public interest again briefly before Congress cut funding due to their efforts in another regional conflict taking place in Asia.

Two days into their mission, an oxygen tank on Apollo 13 service module exploded, forcing astronauts not to use Lunar Module and change course rapidly in order to return home safely.

Apollo 14

NASA was under immense pressure after Apollo 13 failed to demonstrate its technology could work on a real mission, so they relied on Commander Eugene Cernan and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt as back-up crewmembers to complete their role.

Shepard and Mitchell participated in two extravehicular activities (or moonwalks), collecting 94 pounds of valuable lunar samples that continue to delight geologists today. Additionally, they deployed several experiments – one which still broadcasts data back home – and successfully implemented several experiments that are still radioed back.

One common belief about Apollo astronauts is that their photos of the Moon never showed stars, probably due to landings occurring during daylight when starlight would have been completely obscured by lunar surface light. Yet Apollo crews did see plenty of stars; they just needed to look harder.

Apollo 15

Apollo 15 was one of the most ambitious Apollo missions ever, marking a new era of program maturity and operational confidence, as well as being NASA’s inaugural “J-class” mission to use an LRV for extended stays on the Moon.

Commander David Scott and Lunar Module Pilot James Irwin spent three days collecting samples on the surface, including one known as Sample 15016 or “the Seatbelt Basalt,” for which they faked an issue with their seatbelt in order to quickly collect.

Apollo 15 astronauts also used an LRV to drive around Sterno Crater and collect approximately 96 kilograms of samples from it, taking iconic Earthrise photos that would later inspire environmental efforts. Unfortunately, Apollo 15 nearly lost its crew due to multiple flight computer commands which caused its Lunar Module (LM) to roll violently, leading to nearly every member becoming incapacitated for some reason or another.

Apollo 16

Apollo 16 marked NASA’s fifth and final successful lunar landing mission using their Saturn V rocket, with commander John Young and Lunar Module Pilot Charles Duke spending 71 hours and 2 minutes exploring the Moon before departing for home.

While on the lunar surface, astronauts tested Snoopy. Although its design allowed it to travel most of the way down to its target surface of the moon’s interior, only about one-third made it down that far.

The astronauts collected 77 kilograms of samples and took photos, as well as being the first to use a lunar rover on the Moon. Unfortunately, during their return journey an oxygen tank on their service module exploded rendering it useless – in response to which they followed a trajectory around the far side of the Moon to use its gravitational pull to steer back toward home.

Apollo 17

This was the final mission in the Apollo program’s final lunar exploration mission. Commander Eugene Cernan and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt conducted foot treks on the lunar surface while Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans orbited around in America’s command module America.

Eagle had undergone a successful preflight check of its systems, so the astronauts spent the first day setting up hardware and experiments. They collected 14 kilograms (31 pounds) of lunar samples from Steno-Apollo (or “Steno”) crater before deploying an Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP) consisting of seismometers to measure moonquakes as well as devices measuring electrical properties of regolith.

As part of their send-off to Earth, they filmed a Hollywood shot of the Lunar Module lifting off from its lunar surface to send back home. Furthermore, three EVAs (or “moonwalks”) were completed during this mission – they were some of the longest EVAs ever undertaken during any Apollo program mission.

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