The Apollo J Missions

apollo j missions

After landing safely in a lunar crater known as the Sea of Tranquility, astronauts Neil Armstrong ScD ’63 and Buzz Aldrin emerged from their Eagle spacecraft and proceeded to step outside their landing site with seismometers tracking every movement they made.

Apollo J missions would have included longer extravehicular activities and Lunar Roving Vehicle, or “jeep”, as well as exploring more complex geology.

Apollo 11

Armstrong and Aldrin emerged from their lunar module onto the surface of the Moon and deployed scientific instruments, deployed cameras, took pictures, read a plaque, planted an American flag and returned back into their lunar module before heading home.

At 20:17, the astronauts radioed Houston: “Houston, Tranquility Base here – Eagle has just touched down!”

But this mission wasn’t without challenges, including a computer error that delayed reentry. By chance or design, Karl and the White Team ran through a landing simulation just days prior to takeoff; when Armstrong realized their trajectory was taking them towards a crater and field of boulders instead of Site 2 in the Sea of Tranquility as planned, he took manual control and guided their landing within their planned range at Site 2.

Apollo 12

Apollo 12 was launched aboard the Saturn V at Kennedy Space Center with crew members Charles Conrad and Richard Gordon as its primary passengers. Once in orbit with its S-IVB third stage attached, Mission Control performed one of their fastest checkout ever as Charles and Richard geared up for lunar landing.

Once on the Moon, a lander and command module named Yankee Clipper and Intrepid respectively landed within walking distance of Surveyor 3, which had touched down on April 20, 1967. Conrad and Bean collected pieces from Surveyor 3 that they then brought back to Earth for analysis.

This mission marked the first manned landing to use a mobile quarantine facility, enabling scientists to study lunar samples without ever leaving the LM. Furthermore, this mission proved a far more precise landing technique than had been achieved during Apollo 11 mission.

Apollo 13

Apollo 13 was NASA’s third lunar landing mission. Unfortunately, its crew of Commander Jim Lovell, LM Pilot Fred Haise and Command Module Pilot Jack Swigert did not reach their objective due to power system issues in their spacecraft Odyssey.

First was a power failure at their Service Module. Next came an oxygen tank explosion and only half their usual supply of water, electricity and oxygen was available to them.

“Houston, we have a problem!” In these famous words of Lovell, Odyssey had encountered difficulties on its return flight. Following procedures to navigate Odyssey on what is known as a free-return trajectory would leave them short on resources needed for their return journey; fortunately however, an emergency second trajectory burn was successful, and on 17 April 1970 its crew safely reentered Earth’s atmosphere and reentered its atmosphere on 17 April 70; becoming one of the most dramatic missions ever experienced during human spaceflight history and having made its mark upon President Richard Nixon who became particularly committed towards supporting human spaceflight during his presidency.

Apollo 14

NASA implemented numerous safety improvements during the 10-month break between Apollo 13 and 14, such as redesigning the Lunar Module’s abort switch for unintentional abort during descent.

Shepard is working closely with Spacecraft Conductor Skip Chauvin on performing guidance and control checks, specifically gimbaling the large Service Propulsion System engine before pressurizing one of the quadrants of his spacecraft with pressure from Reaction Control System pressurization.

On January 31, 1971, Shepard and Lunar Module Pilot Edgar Mitchell successfully launched after a 40-minute weather delay on January 31, 1971. Their mission marked the first to explore lunar highlands – an area of rugged, heavily-cratered terrain located above maria plains on the Moon – as well as using Buddy Life Support Systems, enabling astronauts to share life support capabilities among themselves.

Apollo 15

Apollo 15 marked a new level of program maturity and confidence. The astronauts explored Hadley-Apennine region of the Moon’s surface while conducting scientific experiments, engineering evaluations of new Apollo equipment evaluations, lunar orbital photography tasks, as well as photographic tasks for lunar photography tasks.

Astronauts David Scott and Jim Irwin used a long-duration Lunar Module (LM) to explore Hadley Delta region on one of the longest EVAs ever performed and deploy an experimental package called ALSEP on the Moon. Command Module Pilot Alfred Worden operated sensors from Service Module Scientific Instrument Module Bay of his Service Module Scientific Instrument Module bay to study lunar surface and environment using panoramic cameras, gamma-ray spectrometer, mapping camera, laser altimeter mass spectrometer as well as deploy an endosatellite from their LM.

This new exhibit begins at the entrance to ECDS and uses digital storytelling, interactive kiosks, and a rotunda gallery to introduce components of ECDS’ Learning Hub. These include a full Flight Data File; which documents each flight “as flown” and provides digital research opportunities.

Apollo 16

Apollo 16 launched on April 16, 1972 as part of an American space program already winding down. However, that didn’t mean it was undertaken half-heartedly or as an attempt to fulfill prior ambitions.

Commander John Young, Lunar Module Pilot Charles Duke and Command Module Pilot Ken Mattingly all had to put forth tremendous effort in order to meet their objectives.

They landed at Descartes highlands, hoping that volcanic rocks would provide insight into how the Moon formed. Unfortunately, contrary to expectations from scientists, few such rocks were present indicating that most likely not formed by volcanic action. Furthermore, the astronauts deployed the ALSEP and traveled a long way on EVA collecting samples from multiple craters including Flag Crater; using portable magnetometer measurements they measured the Moon’s magnetic field which added another piece of data from Surveyor 3 which had already reached lunar orbit two years prior.

Apollo 17

NASA’s final Apollo space program mission successfully placed Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt on the moon for 75 hours of geological surveys and experiments in Taurus-Littrow valley.

Astronauts utilized and activated the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package, or ALSEP, which included the Heat Flow Experiment (HFE), lunar surface gravimeter, lunar seismic profiling experiment, atmospheric composition experiment and an instrument designed to measure meteorites.

Cernan and Schmitt performed two moonwalks during which they drove the rover to nine planned geological survey stations to collect samples for study before returning to the LM. Their two trips together made history as it marked the longest moonwalk to date – their findings showing evidence of volcanic activity once covering its surface.

Apollo 18

After the tragic events surrounding Apollo 1 that claimed three of their crewmembers’ lives, NASA decided to revamp all crewed missions, redesigning Block I spacecraft in order to address safety concerns – this included adding an additional command/service module (also called lunar module or LM).

In December 1974, the crew of Apollo 18 is informed that their flight would now continue as a top-secret Department of Defense mission. Commander Nathan Walker, Lieutenant Colonel John Grey, and Captain Ben Anderson set sail toward the Moon to place detectors that can alert the United States of any potential ICBM attacks from Soviet Russia.

Astronauts were set to land in Copernicus crater, which offers clues into its violent history. Additionally, geophones would have been deployed in order to monitor seismic waves on the Moon’s interior for greater understanding.

Apollo 19

After Apollo 13’s failure, Congress ordered NASA to cancel all lunar landing missions; however, since the Saturn V rockets, command modules and Lunar Modules for Apollo 18 and 19 still existed so these missions were renamed J missions; their astronauts ended up flying other Apollo missions or Skylab/space shuttle missions instead.

On 20 July 1969 Armstrong and Aldrin successfully disembarked from Columbia and landed the Lunar Module Eagle on the Moon. Once on its surface they shook out lunar soil before setting up several experiments such as Heat Flow for measuring Moon interior temperature measurement as well as mass spectrometer for studying its tenuous atmosphere composition and seismometer to monitor seismic activity as well as laser retroreflector for precise distance measurement between Earth and Moon.

Apollo 20

The Apollo 20 mission was a top secret lunar expedition to the far side of the Moon and back, intended to discover and extract an alien spacecraft thought to be buried there for 1.5 billion years. According to legend, its crew successfully recovered it and brought it back home where they examined it further.

NASA decided to cancel Apollo 20 mission on January 4, 1970 due to budgetary considerations and budget restrictions; future lunar landing missions were thus spread out over six-month intervals.

Schirra’s crew became backup for Grissom’s, with Borman and McDivitt joining Apollo 17. Schmitt was later moved up from Apollo 18 to replace Joe Engle. However, this unsuited astronaut in this photo gives away that fact as there would not have been enough room to maneuver her body inside an actual lunar module (LM).

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