Which Spacecraft Landed on the Moon?

Landing on the Moon requires immense amounts of energy. That energy must be carefully managed in order to achieve an efficient landing on its surface.

Surveyor 1 was the inaugural spacecraft of its kind to take high-resolution photos and create a map of potential Apollo landing sites on the Moon’s far side. Controllers deliberately crashed it into its surface so as to prevent interference with future crewed missions.

Apollo 1

The inaugural crewed Apollo flight marked a remarkable national effort to beat Soviet Russia to the Moon. Commander Neil Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin Aldrin successfully made history on July 20, 1969 by landing in the Sea of Tranquility as humans for the first time on another world.

Armstrong and Aldrin successfully deployed Eagle to the lunar surface after breaking free from Mike Collins in the command service module Columbia, with Americans watching on television as alarms in its 1202 and 1201 program alarms went off, although NASA simulations revealed it to be safe to continue its descent.

Apollo 2

In February 1966, this Soviet probe made history as the first man-made object ever to land on another celestial body – landing gently sloping floor of a crater and sending back three panoramic images depicting its landing site.

Armstrong then famously radioed Houston that “Houston, Tranquility Base here; Eagle has landed.” Afterward, Armstrong and Aldrin went through an exhaustive checklist to ensure their spacecraft would safely return home.

Apollo 3

The astronauts successfully docked Eagle, their lunar module, to Collins’ command module where she remained. Once in position they took several TV pictures and drove their lunar buggy before collecting 77.3 kg in samples.

During their landing sequence, the crew had to contend with alarms generated from an error in their computer system; however, simulations demonstrated that they could safely proceed, which they did.

Their exploration of Descartes and Cayley highlands proved fruitful; however, their ALSEP experiment failed due to a faulty cable connection.

Apollo 4

After several uncrewed missions, Apollo 4 became the first successful crewed lunar landing mission. Following a 54-orbit voyage, Eagle made its final touchdown at Sea of Tranquility where Commander Neil Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin Aldrin spent 181/2 hours exploring.

Odysseus took this route so as to be closer to 15,000 feet from the Moon when arriving for landing, providing engineers with an opportunity to find an unobstructed place where Odysseus could touch down safely and without incident.

Apollo 5

This spacecraft was the first ever to orbit and photograph the far side of the Moon, while collecting dust and rock samples as it passed overhead.

Armstrong and Aldrin entered the Eagle lunar module after departing Columbia. It consisted of two sections, with the lower section called the descent stage separating from its counterpart after launch.

Armstrong controlled Eagle over its landing site and used its reaction control system until he found an ideal landing spot, using telescopes and sextants as tools to ensure their navigation was correct.

Apollo 6

On this first test flight of the Apollo Block II command and service module (CSM), which had previously been designated AS-204, three astronauts (Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee) perished due to an explosion on launch pad fire.

This mission successfully sent a lunar probe to the surface and returned images that allowed scientists to “weigh” rocks by measuring how much current they required to lift them, as well as demonstrate the capabilities of a longer-duration LM and upgraded spacesuits.

Apollo 7

Apollo 7 became the first American spacecraft to orbit the Moon with three-person crewmembers aboard, featuring Walter “Wally” Schirra of Mercury program fame as well as two rookies from its Mercury program counterpart.

On this mission, astronauts conducted extensive testing on many systems from both the Apollo Command and Service Modules as well as SPS “burns,” short thrust bursts that assisted the spacecraft into lunar orbit and back out again.

NASA was excited to allow an astronaut in space to broadcast live through television for the first time ever – it may not have been an overwhelming success but nonetheless was an important step towards exploration of outer space.

Apollo 8

Within four months of each other, both Russia and America had launched uncrewed spacecraft to the Moon and returned photographic images showing it could support heavier Apollo crewed landers.

Apollo 8, featuring Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders as its first-ever astronauts to orbit the Moon for 10 orbits and 20 hours including an intensive close approach, marked history’s first human voyage beyond Earth orbit.

Apollo 9

Surveyor 5 was the inaugural American-built spacecraft to land successfully on the Moon, despite a significant helium leak and communications issues that prevented its EagleCam from transmitting images, yet controllers managed to bring Surveyor 5 safely down on lunar surface.

Gemini program veterans James McDivitt and David Scott and rookie Lunar Module Pilot Russell Schweickart completed a ten-day mission testing systems essential for future Apollo lunar landings as well as showing the engines of their Lunar Module (LM).

At 4:17 pm EDT, Armstrong sent out his radio broadcast “Houston, Tranquility Base is here with contact lights activated.”

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