The Apollo Missions to the Moon

the apollo missions to the moon

The Apollo program, which ran from 1961 to 1972, reached its pinnacle on July 20, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the Moon. Their decisions regarding approach, technology, organisation and funding had an outsized influence on human spaceflight and continue to shape today’s space exploration efforts.

The astronauts arrived on the lunar module and spent two and a half hours exploring its surface, taking photographs, planting an American flag, reading an inscription plaque and conducting simple geologic experiments.

Apollo 1

Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee led this first manned test in Earth orbit and low-Earth orbit for the Apollo spacecraft that would eventually take people to the Moon. Additionally, this mission featured live television broadcast from an American spacecraft as well as testing an experimental lunar lander.

Things soon turned tragic. A fire in the command module took the lives of both astronauts in minutes. Pad safety workers raced toward it but found visibility poor due to thick smoke; five minutes were necessary just to open its hatch due to pressure from its gaseous atmosphere within.

Rescuers quickly arrived at the charred cabin where rescuers heard astronauts’ last transmissions and attempted to revive them before smelling burned plastic, paint, and nylon odor. A review board could never establish what caused the fire, though multiple design and manufacturing flaws were identified.

Apollo 2

NASA was still reeling from the fire that caused three astronauts’ deaths during Apollo 1, but plans for lunar landing missions continued despite it. A pre-launch test showed problems with oxygen tanks on three spacecraft; three lunar missions including Apollo 13 were cancelled as a result, such as Apollo 13.

Apollo 9, internally known as AS-502, launched on March 3, 1969 and returned safely. Astronauts James McDivitt and Rusty Schweickart separated the Lunar Module from the Command Module after six hours but stayed in Earth orbit to test out its systems.

On July 21st they entered lunar orbit and then descended to its surface, where they conducted several experiments. These included taking photographs, collecting soil samples and testing out whether their spacecraft’s engine could create a crater – it did indeed make some but nothing major enough. After their mission concluded they reunited with Collins in the CM and jettisoned the LM; Armstrong and Aldrin noticed a whistle noise which they believed to be radio interference from LM to CM before jettisoning it – which presumably meant they reconnected with Collins before jettisoning it completely – they heard something which Armstrong and Aldrin later explained was radio interference from LM to CM before jettisoning.

Apollo 3

After the tragic incident on Apollo 1, NASA managers took it seriously and demanded improvements to both the Command/Service Module (CSM) and Lunar Module (LM). As a result, an enhanced Saturn V rocket was designed that had enough flight capacity for nine crewed lunar landing missions.

Apollo 10 — July 16, 1969

In preparation for the inaugural moon landing, this mission tested every aspect of Apollo, from docking the CSM with the LM on television to television transmission of astronauts themselves docking. Despite thruster issues, Commander Tom Stafford and Lunar Module Pilot Eugene Cernan successfully landed at Sea of Tranquility where they traveled 16 miles in three moonwalks with their Lunar Roving Vehicle before collecting 209 pounds in samples during three moonwalks on three different dates; also featured the inaugural deep space EVA by Ken Mattingly from inside their LM. Overall this mission proved most productive of any of Apollo missions ever attempted before or since.

Apollo 4

Apollo 4 marked a monumental accomplishment for the Apollo program: it successfully accomplished its central objective of landing on the Moon. Commander David Scott and Lunar Module Pilot Alfred Worden made their historic landing on July 26 in Hadley-Apennine region and collected 169 pounds of samples from lunar surface during their time there, using Surveyor 7 spacecraft to test theory that once upon a time its interior had been hotter.

Apollo test missions carried out uncrewed Apollo launch vehicles and spacecraft intended to transport astronauts to the Moon, before astronaut crews made use of this data to perform scientific experiments on our nearest celestial neighbor – gathering rock samples, drilling core samples, measuring seismic activity called moonquakes, and determining distance from Earth to Moon. Through their efforts Apollo astronauts were able to answer important questions about our Moon as well as possible life on other exoplanets beyond it.

Apollo 5

Apollo 5 saw the Apollo crew conduct extensive tests of their Lunar Module in space, including its ascent and descent engines, along with testing out a vehicle called Moon Buggy that folded away beneath it for transportation purposes.

On July 20, 1969, Armstrong and Aldrin made history when they became the first men to land on the Moon, leaving iconic boot prints that can still be seen today. They collected samples of lunar material while using seismometers to monitor Moonquakes as well as laser retroreflectors to enable precise distance measurements between Earth and the Moon.

Apollo 10 came perilously close to crashing onto the moon as it flew through low-Earth orbit, as astronauts misread multiple commands given by Lunar Module’s flight computer, leading to violent rolling motion of Lunar Module and command module (nicknamed Charlie Brown and Snoopy respectively) during its descent towards lunar surface. But they managed to recover control quickly enough and save their mission, becoming inspirations for Charles Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip series.

Apollo 6

The Apollo 6 crew took an adventurous trip to the Moon. Landing in its Sea of Tranquility crater, it saw Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become the first humans ever to set foot on its surface.

Apollo 6 was an unmanned space mission designed to evaluate how well Saturn V rocket could propel astronauts onto a lunar trajectory. Once leaving Earth’s orbit, two spacecraft separated: Command Module and Lunar Module – astronauts remained inside until nearing Moon approach then lunar Module was jettisoned by thrusters.

Astronauts then performed two surface EVAs to complete the mission’s objectives and successfully demonstrate that it met President John F Kennedy’s goal of landing men on the Moon. Apollo 6 launched on the same day Martin Luther King Jr was murdered in Tennessee; although this event cast a shadow over its mission goals. NASA, however, continued with their mission in spite of these distractions.

Apollo 7

NASA’s Apollo program followed Gemini and would send humans all the way to and from the moon without actually landing on its surface.

Apollo 7, launched aboard a Saturn IB and landing on January 21, 1968 near Tycho Crater on the lunar highlands, was the inaugural human mission. Engineers used its scoop to “weigh” lunar rocks — effectively, to determine how much current was needed to lift them — while images from Apollo 7 revealed that much of its surface was once liquid.

Astronauts Walter Schirra and Don Eisele made headlines as the crew of Apollo 7, due to its live broadcasts from space. Schirra advocated strongly for his crew members’ return home without their helmets and suits; mission control eventually agreed, showing that CSM technology could last in space for long. The mission proved the CSM could function efficiently.

Apollo 8

During the 1960s, United States and Soviet Union were locked in an intense Cold War. Space race became a focal point of this contention – being first to the moon was an enormous goal!

Apollo 8 had to perform an intricate maneuver in order to break free from Earth orbit and reach the Moon’s gravitational pull, which required firing up their service module engine for four minutes – something they called “the longest four minutes of their lives.”

Apollo 8 proved very successful and its crew sent back numerous pictures and made two television broadcasts from lunar orbit, in the second of which Commander Frank Borman bid everyone on Earth “good luck and God bless you”, marking an especially meaningful broadcast given that it took place on Christmas Eve – making history by becoming the first manned apollo flight ever shown live on TV! Apollo 8 consisted of Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot James Lovell and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders as its crew members.

Apollo 9

Apollo spacecraft needed to be larger than those used for Mercury and Gemini because three astronauts needed to fit inside at once. Furthermore, it had to transport astronauts safely between Earth orbit and lunar surface as well as return safely back home again.

On May 26, 1969, astronauts Harrison Schmitt (1930-1997), Ronald E. Evans, and Eugene Cernan aboard the CSM Columbia conducted a practice lunar landing. They tested its descent engines and backup abort systems.

Next year, Commander Neil Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin made history when they made history themselves when Apollo 10’s Commander Neil Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the first human beings ever to step foot on another planet, collecting 169 pounds of samples before safely returning back to CSM Columbia mothership – also performing the first manned docking between an Apollo command service module and lunar module, plus conducting extravehicular activity activities – becoming the first human beings ever set foot on another planet! This mission also featured first manned docking between an Apollo command service module and lunar module as well as extravehicular activity activities; in total.

Scroll to Top