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Apollo Space Missions


Apollo 1 (AS-204)


Disaster On Pad 34


During a preflight test for what was to be the first manned Apollo mission, a fire claimed the lives of three U.S. astronauts; Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee. After the disaster, the mission was officially designated Apollo 1.


Earth Orbit Mission


Summary of Events


January 27, 1967


Tragedy struck on the launch pad during a preflight test for Apollo 204, scheduled to be the first Apollo manned mission. It would have been launched on February 21, 1967, but Astronauts Virgil Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chaffee lost their lives when a fire swept through the Command Module (CM).


The astronauts entered the Apollo at 1:00 p.m., Friday, 27 January 1967. Problems immediately arose. The first problem occurred when Gus Grissom entered into the spacecraft and hooked up to his oxygen supply from the spacecraft. He described a strange odor in the spacesuit loop as a "sour smell". The crew stopped to take a sample of the suit loop, and after discussion with Grissom decided to continue the test.


The next problem was a high oxygen flow indication which periodically triggered the master alarm. The men discussed this matter with environmental control system personnel, who believed the high flow resulted from movement of the crew. The matter was not really resolved.


A third serious problem arose in communications. At first, faulty communications seemed to exist solely between Command Pilot Grissom and the control room. The crew made adjustments. Later, the difficulty extended to include communications between the operations and checkout building and the blockhouse at complex 34.


This failure in communications forced a hold of the countdown at 5:40 p.m. By 6:31 the test conductors were about ready to pick up the count when ground instruments showed an unexplained rise in the oxygen flow into the spacesuits. One of the crew, presumably Grissom, moved slightly.


Four seconds later, an astronaut, probably Chaffee, announced almost casually over the intercom: "Fire, I smell fire." Two seconds later, Astronaut White's voice was more insistent: "Fire in the cockpit."


Procedures for emergency escape called for a minimum of 90 seconds. But in practice the crew had never accomplished the routines in the minimum time. Grissom had to lower White's headrest so White could reach above and behind his left shoulder to actuate a ratchet-type device that would release the first of series of latches. According to one source, White had actually made part of a full turn with the ratchet before he was overcome by smoke.


Spacecraft technicians ran towards the sealed Apollo, but before they could reach it, the command module ruptured. Flame and thick black clouds of smoke billowed out, filling the room. Now a new danger arose. Many feared that the fire might set off the launch escape system atop Apollo. This, in turn, could ignite the entire service structure. Instinct told the men to get out while they could. Many did so, but others tried to rescue the astronauts.


The intense heat and dense smoke drove one after another back, but finally they succeeded. Unfortunately, it was too late. The astronauts were dead. Firemen arrived within three minutes of the hatch opening, doctors soon thereafter. A medical board determined that the astronauts died of carbon monoxide asphyxia, with thermal burns as contributing causes. The board could not say how much of the burns came after the three had died. Fire had destroyed 70% of Grissom's spacesuit, 20% of White's and 15% of Chaffee's. Doctors treated 27 men for smoke inhalation. Two were hospitalized.


After removal of the bodies, NASA impounded everything at launch complex 34. On 3 February, NASA Administrator Webb set up a review board to investigate the matter thoroughly. Engineers at the Manned Spacecraft Center duplicated conditions of the Apollo 204 without the crewmen in the capsule. They reconstructed events and the investigation on pad 34 showed that the fire started in or near one of the wire bundles to the left and just in front of Grissom's seat on the left side of the cabin -- a spot visible to Chaffee. The fire was probably invisible for about five or six seconds until Chaffee sounded the alarm.


The exhaustive investigation of the fire and extensive reworking of the CMs postponed any manned launch until NASA officials cleared the CM for manned flight. Saturn 1B schedules were suspended for nearly a year, and the launch vehicle that finally bore the designation AS-204 carried a Lunar Module (LM) as the payload, not the Apollo CM. The missions of AS-201 and AS-202 with Apollo spacecraft aboard, unofficially known as Apollo 1 and Apollo 2 missions, carried only the aerodynamic nose cone.


In the spring of 1967, NASA's Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, Dr. George E. Mueller, announced that the mission originally scheduled for Grissom, White and Chaffee would be known as Apollo 1, and that the first Saturn V launch, scheduled for November 1967, would be known as Apollo 4. The eventual launch of AS-204 became known as the Apollo 5 mission (no missions or flights were ever designated Apollo 2 and 3).



Apollo 4


Apollo 4 was launched on Nov. 9, 1967. It was the first Apollo flight to use a Saturn V launch vehicle. Reaching an altitude of 11,234 miles, the unmanned flight lasted 8 1/2 hours. It re-entered the atmosphere at 24,917 mph and splashed down in the Pacific. The flight qualified the heat shield for lunar flight.



Apollo 7 (AS-205)


Earth Orbit Mission


First manned test flight of the CSM


Apollo 7 was the only manned Apollo mission launched on a Saturn 1-B rocket and from pad 34 at the Kennedy Space Center. Apollo 7 was the first manned test of the Command and Service Module. The crew orbited the Earth 163 times and spent 10 days and 20 hours in space.


Mission Summary


Apollo 7 was launched from Cape Kennedy, FL., at 11:02:45 a.m., EST, on October 11, 1968 from launch complex 34 on top of a Saturn IB. The spacecraft crew consisted of commander Walter M. Schirra, Jr., command module pilot Donn F. Eisele, and Walter Cunningham as lunar module pilot. Apollo 7 carried a lunar module pilot, but no lunar module.


Apollo 7 spent more time in space than all the Soviet space flights combined up to that time. The mission featured the first live TV from a manned spacecraft.


Hot meals and relatively complete freedom of motion in the spacecraft enhanced crew comfort over previous Mercury and Gemini flights. The service module service propulsion system (SPS) main engine proved itself by accomplishing the longest and shortest manned SPS burns and the largest number of inflight restarts. The SPS engine was the largest thrust engine to be manually thrust vector-controlled.


As part of the effort to alleviate fire hazard prior to liftoff and during initial flight, the command module cabin atmosphere was composed of 60% oxygen and 40% nitrogen. During this period the crew was isolated from the cabin by the suit circuit, which contained 100% oxygen. Shortly after liftoff, the cabin atmosphere was gradually enriched to pure oxygen at a pressure of 5 pounds per square inch.


Some significant spacecraft changes from Block I included the addition of a fire extinguisher and emergency oxygen masks, an onboard TV camera, and S-band equipment.



Apollo 8 (AS-503)


Earth Orbit Mission


Man Around The Moon


Apollo 8 was the first mission to take humans to the Moon and back. An important prelude to actually landing on the Moon was testing the flight trajectory and operations for getting there and back. Apollo 8 did this and acheived many other firsts including the first manned mission launched on the Saturn V, first manned launch from NASA's new Moonport, first pictures taken by humans of the Earth from deep space, and first live TV coverage of the lunar surface.


Mission Summary


Apollo 8 was launched from Cape Kennedy, Fla., at 7:50 a.m., EST, on December 21, 1968. Two hours 50 minutes later, translunar injection was performed; and astronauts Col. Frank Borman, the commander; Capt. James A. Lovell, Jr., the command module pilot; and Major William A. Anders, the lunar module pilot, were on their way to the Moon.


The Spacecraft was placed in an elliptical lunar orbit at 69 hours 8 minutes after liftoff. After flying two elliptical orbits of 168.5 by 60 nautical miles with an inclination of 12 degrees to the Equator, the spacecraft was placed in a nearly circular orbit of 59.7 by 60.7 nautical miles in which it remained for eight orbits. Images of the lunar surface were transmitted for live television broadcast on Earth.(televised image of lunar surface pictured at left)


At 89 hours 19 minutes, transearth injection was performed from behind the Moon. A nearly flawless mission was completed on the morning of December 27 when splashdown occurred in the Pacific Ocean after a total elapsed time of 147 hours. (CM recovery pictured at right)


The primary purpose of this mission was to further progress toward the goal of landing men on the Moon by gaining operational experience and testing the Apollo system. However, a great effort was also made to accomplish worthwhile scientific tasks with photography and visual information by the astronauts.


Event: 1968-12-12; (Apollo 8)



Apollo 9 (AS-504)


Earth Orbit Mission


Manned Test of Lunar Hardware in Earth Orbit


The Apollo 9 mission was the first manned flight of all Apollo lunar hardware in Earth orbit and first manned flight of the lunar module. Lunar module pilot Russel L. Schweickart performed a 37 minute EVA. Human reactions to space and weightlessness were tested in 152 orbits.


Mission Summary


The Apollo 9 mission was launched from Cape Kennedy at 11 a.m. EST on March 3, 1969 from Launch complex 39A. The primary objectives were to demonstrate crew, space vehicle and mission support facilities performance during a manned Saturn V mission with the command-service module (CSM) and the lunar module (LM); demonstrate LM/crew performance; demonstrate docking, intervehicular crew transfer, extravehicular capability and LM-active rendezvous and docking; and conduct CSM/LM consumables assessment. All primary objectives were accomplished.

The Apollo 9 launch was the first Saturn V/Apollo Spacecraft in full lunar mission configuration and carried the largest payload ever placed in orbit. Since Apollo 9 was the first manned demonstration of lunar module systems performance, many firsts were achieved.


The crew had remarkable success in sighting objects using the crewman optical alignment sight (COAS). Their success seems to confirm the thesis that the visual acuity of the human eye is increased in space. One example is their sighting of the Pegasus II Satellite at a range of approximately 1,000 miles.



Apollo 10 (AS-505)


Man's Nearest Lunar Approach


The Apollo 10 mission was a complete staging of the Apollo 11 mission without actually landing on the Moon. The mission was the second to orbit the Moon and the first to travel to the Moon with the entire Apollo spacecraft configuration. Astronauts Thomas Stafford and Eugene Cernan decended inside the Lunar Module to within 14 kilometers of the lunar surface achieving the closest approach to the Moon before Apollo 11 landed two months later.


Mission Summary


The Apollo 10 spacecraft was launched from Cape Kennedy at 12:49 p.m., EDT, on May 18, 1969. This liftoff marked the fourth manned Apollo launch in the short space of seven months. After the spacecraft completed one and a half revolutions of the Earth, the S-IVB booster stage was reignited to increase the speed of the spacecraft to the velocity required to escape the gravitational attraction of the Earth. Three days later, the spacecraft was placed in a 60- by 170-nautical miles orbit around the Moon. After the spacecraft completed two revolutions of the Moon, orbit was circularized to 60 nautical miles by a second burn of the service propulsion system.


Nineteen color television transmissions (totaling 5 hours 52 minutes) of remarkable quality provided the world audience the best exposure yet to spacecraft activities and spectacular views of the earth and the moon.


On the fifth day of the mission, Astronauts Thomas P. Stafford and Eugene A. Cernan descended in the lunar module to an altitude of less than 47,000 feet (14,326 meters) above the Moon. At this altitude, two passes were made over the future Apollo 11 landing site. The LM then completed a successful rendezvous with Astronaut John W. Young in the command module.


During the mission, the astronauts obtained hundreds of still photographs and exposed many reels of motion-picture film.


On May 24, the service propulsion system was reignited, and the astronauts began the return journey to Earth. Splashdown occurred at 12:52 p.m. on May 26, 1969, less than 4 miles (6.4 km) from the target point and the recovery ship.


Event: 1969-05-00; Apollo 10



Apollo 11 (AS-506)


First manned ship to land on the moon, launched July 16, 1969


July 20th, man landed on the Moon, 4:18PM EDT


July 21st, Neil Armstrong steps on the moon at 2:56:15 AM (GMT). He was the first man to walk on the moon.



Lunar Landing Mission


Apollo 11 was the first manned mission to land on the Moon. The first steps by humans on another planetary body were taken by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on July 20, 1969. The astronauts also returned to Earth the first samples from another planetary body. Apollo 11 achieved its primary mission - to perform a manned lunar landing and return the mission safely to Earth - and paved the way for the Apollo lunar landing missions to follow.


Mission Summary


The Apollo 11 spacecraft was launched from Cape Kennedy at 13:32:00 UT on July 16, 1969. After 2 hr and 33 min in Earth orbit, the S-IVB engine was reignited for acceleration of the spacecraft to the velocity required for Earth gravity escape.


Lunar-orbit insertion began at 75:50 ground elapsed time (GET). The spacecraft was placed in an elliptical orbit (61 by 169 nautical miles), inclined 1.25 degrees to the lunar equatorial plane. At 80:12 GET, the service module propulsion system was reignited, and the orbit was made nearly circular (66 by 54 nautical miles) above the surface of the Moon. Each orbit took two hours. Photographs taken from lunar orbit provided broad views for the study of regional lunar geology.


The lunar module (LM), with Astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin aboard, was undocked from the command-service module (CSM) at 100:14 GET, following a thorough check of all the LM systems. At 101:36 GET, the LM descent engine was fired for approximately 29 seconds, and the descent to the lunar surface began. At 102:33 GET, the LM descent engine was started for the last time and burned until touchdown on the lunar surface. Eagle landed on the Moon 102 hr, 45 min and 40 sec after launch.


Immediately after landing on the Moon, Armstrong and Aldrin prepared the LM for liftoff as a contingency measure. Following the meal, a scheduled sleep period was postponed at the astronauts' request, and the astronauts began preparations for descent to the lunar surface.


Astronaut Armstrong emerged from the spacecraft first. While descending, he released the Modularized Equipment Stowage Assembly (MESA) on which the surface television camera was stowed, and the camera recorded humankind's first step on the Moon at 109:24:19 GET (pictured at left). A sample of lunar surface material was collected and stowed to assure that, if a contingency required an early end to the planned surface activities, samples of lunar surface material would be returned to Earth. Astronaut Aldrin subsequently descended to the lunar surface.


The astronauts carried out the planned sequence of activities that included deployment of a Solar Wind Composition (SWC) experiment, collection of a larger sample of lunar material, panoramic photographs of the region near the landing site and the lunar horizon, closeup photographs of in place lunar surface material, deployment of a Laser-Ranging Retroreflector (LRRR) and a Passive Seismic Experiment Package (PSEP), and collection of two core-tube samples of the lunar surface.


Approximately two and a quarter hours after descending to the surface, the astronauts began preparations to reenter the LM, after which the astronauts slept. The ascent from the lunar surface began at 124:22 GET, 21 hours and 36 minutes after the lunar landing. In transearth coast only one of four planned midcourse corrections was required. The CM entered the atmosphere of the Earth with a velocity of 36,194 feet per second (11,032 meters per second) and landed in the Pacific Ocean.



1969-07-16; Apollo-11
1969-07-19; Apollo 11 Lunar Module Eagle
1969-07-29; Apollo 11 Lunar Landing Mission



Apollo 12 (AS-507)


Beyond Apollo 11


Apollo 12, the second manned mission to land on the Moon, was planned and executed as a precision landing. The astronauts landed the Lunar Module within walking distance of the Surveyor III spacecraft which had landed on the Moon in April of 1967. The astronauts brought instruments from Surveyor III back to Earth to examine the effects of long-term exposure to the lunar environment.


Mission Summary


The Apollo 12 mission was the second manned lunar landing mission. Its objective was to perform detailed scientific lunar exploration. The space vehicle with a crew of Charles (Pete) Conrad, Jr., the commander; Richard F. Gordon, the command module pilot; and Alan L. Bean, the lunar module pilot, was launched from Kennedy Space Center, Fla., at 11:22:00 EST on November 14, 1969.

A precision landing was made using automatic guidance, with only small manual corrections required in the final phases of descent. Touchdown occured at 110.5 hr ground elapsed time (GET), at a point only 600 feet (183 meters) from the target point, the Surveyor III spacecraft. The landing was in the Ocean of Storms.


This precision landing was of great significance to the future lunar exploration program, because landing points in rough terrain of great scientific interest could now be targeted.

The first of two planned extravehicular activiy (EVA) periods began at 115 hr GET. A color television camera mounted on the descent stage provided live television coverage of the descent of both astronauts to the lunar surface. Television coverage was subsequently lost because of the inadvertent pointing of the camera at the Sun.


The crew emplaced the U.S. flag and the solar-wind composition experiment. They collected lunar samples and core-tube specimens during this first EVA period which lasted approximately four hours.


Following a seven-hour rest period, the second EVA period began at 131.5 hr GET. The two astronauts started a geology traverse. The traverse covered approximately 4300 feet (1311 meters) and lasted 3 hours and 50 minutes. During the traverse, documented samples, core-tube samples, trench site samples, and gas analysis samples were collected. The Apollo 12 samples were mostly basalts, dark-colored igneous rocks, and they were hundreds of millions of years younger than the rocks collected on Apollo 11.


The crew photographed Surveyor III, which landed on the lunar surface in April 1967, and retrieved a painted tube, an unpainted tube, the Surveyor III scoop and the television camera. The television camera is now on display in the National Air and Space Museum's "Exploring The Planets" gallery.


Another rest period and a final checkout preceded the liftoff of the lunar module ascent stage at 142 hr GET. Following crew transfer, the ascent stage was remotely guided to impact on the lunar surface to provide an active seismic source for the passive seismic experiment that had been emplaced. The command module landed in the Pacific Ocean at 244.5 hr GET.


Mission Objectives


The Apollo Program Primary objectives included:

Perform inspection, survey and sampling in lunar mare area

Deploy an Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package (ALSEP).

Develop techniques for a point landing capability

Develop capability to work in the lunar environment

Obtain photographs of candidate exploration sites


Secondary objective was to the retrieve portions of the Surveyor III spacecraft which had been exposed to the lunar environment since the unmanned spacecraft soft-landed on the inner slope of a crater on April 20, 1967.


Event: 1969-11-14; Apollo 12



Apollo 13 (AS-508)


"Houston, we've had a problem"


Apollo 13 was to be the third mission to land on the Moon. An explosion in one of the oxygen tanks crippled the spacecraft during flight and the crew were forced to orbit the Moon and return to the Earth without landing.


Mission Summary


The Apollo 13 mission was launched at 2:13 p.m. EST, April 11, 1970 from launch complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center. The space vehicle crew consisted of James A. Lovell, Jr. commander, John L. Swigert, Jr., command module pilot and Fred W. Haise, Jr. lunar module pilot.


The Apollo 13 Mission was planned as a lunar landing mission but was aborted en route to the moon after about 56 hours of flight due to loss of service module cryogenic oxygen and consequent loss of capability to generate electrical power, to provide oxygen and to produce water.


Spacecraft systems performance was nominal until the fans in cryogenic oxygen tank 2 were turned on at 55:53:18 ground elapsed time (GET). About 2 seconds after energizing the fan circuit, a short was indicated in the current from fuel cell 3, which was supplying power to cryogenic oxygen tank 2 fans. Within several additional seconds, two other shorted conditions occurred.


Electrical shorts in the fan circuit ignited the wire insulation, causing temperature and pressure to increase within cryogenic oxygen tank 2. When pressure reached the cryogenic oxygen tank 2 relief valve full-flow conditions of 1008 psi, the pressure began decreasing for about 9 seconds, at which time the relief valve probably reseated, causing the pressure to rise again momentarily. About a quarter of a second later, a vibration disturbance was noted on the command module accelerometers.


The next series of events occurred within a fraction of a second between the accelerometer disturbances and the data loss. A tank line burst, because of heat, in the vacuum jacket pressurizing the annulus and, in turn, causing the blow-out plug on the vacuum jacket to rupture. Some mechanism in bay 4 combined with the oxygen buildup in that bay to cause a rapid pressure rise which resulted in separation of the outer panel. The panel struck one of the dishes of the high-gain antenna. The panel separation shock closed the fuel cell 1 and 3 oxygen reactant shut-off valves and several propellant and helium isolation valves in the reaction control system. Data were lost for about 1.8 seconds as the high-gain antenna switched from narrow beam to wide beam, because of the antenna being hit and damaged.


As a result of these occurrences, the CM was powered down and the LM was configured to supply the necessary power and other consumables.


The CSM was powered down at approximately 58:40 GET. The surge tank and repressurization package were isolated with approximately 860 psi residual pressure (approx. 6.5 lbs of oxygen total). The primary water glycol system was left with radiators bypassed.


All LM systems performed satisfactorily in providing the necessary power and environmental control to the spacecraft. The requirement for lithium hydroxide to remove carbon dioxide from the spacecraft atmosphere was met by a combination of the CM and LM cartridges since the LM cartridges alone would not satisfy the total requirement. The crew, with direction from Mission Control, built an adapter for the CM cartridges to accept LM hoses.


The service module was jettisoned at approximately 138 hours GET, and the crew observed and photographed the bay-4 area where the cryogenic tank anomaly had occurred. At this time, the crew remarked that the outer skin covering for bay-4 had been severely damaged, with a large portion missing. The LM was jettisoned about 1 hour before entry, which was performed nominally using primary guidance and navigation system.



Disaster strikes 200,000 miles from Earth when oxygen tank No. 2 blows up on Apollo 13, the third manned lunar landing mission. Astronauts James A. Lovell, John L. Swigert, and Fred W. Haise had left Earth two days before for the Fra Mauro highlands of the moon but were forced to turn their attention to simply making it home alive.


Event: 1970-04-00; Apollo 13



Apollo 14 (AS-509)


The Third Manned Lunar Landing


Apollo 14 landed in the Fra Mauro region, the intended landing site of the aborted Apollo 13 mission. The astronauts used the Modularized Equipment Transporter (MET) to haul equipment during two EVAs (later missions would use the Lunar Roving Vehicle). They collected samples, took photographs, and the nearby Cone crater. One of the more famous moments came at the end of the second EVA when Apollo 14 commander Alan Shepard hit 2 golf balls on the Moon.


Mission Summary


The Apollo 14 mission was the third manned lunar landing mission. Its objective was to perform detailed scientific lunar exploration. The space vehicle with a crew of Alan B. Shepard, Jr., the commander; Stuart A. Roosa, the command module pilot; and Edgar D. Mitchell, the lunar module pilot, was launched from Kennedy Space Center, FL., at 4:03:22 EST on January 31, 1971.

The touchdown occurred at 08:37:10 GMT, February 5, within 50m (160 ft) of the target point in the Fra Mauro highlands. The first extravehicular activity (EVA) began 5 hr 23 min after touchdown.


A color television camera mounted on the descent stage provided live coverage of the descent of both astronauts to the lunar surface. The crew deployed the U.S. flag and and the solar-wind composition experiment, erected the S-band antenna, and off-loaded the modularized equipment transporter (MET), laser ranging retroreflector (LRRR), and the Apollo lunar-surface experiments package (ALSEP).


The second EVA was a planned extended geological traverse of Cone Crater. All equipment required for the geological traverse, including the lunar portable magnetometer (LPM), was loaded on the MET. The traverse up the side of Cone Crater provided experience in climbing and working in hilly terrain in 1/6 earth gravity conditions. This EVA lasted 4 hr and 20 min, during which time the astronauts traveled approximately 3 km.


Liftoff occurred at 18:48 GMT, February 6, after 33 hr on the lunar surface. After crew transfer, the LM ascent stage was separated and remotely guided to impact on the lunar surface. Impact occurred between Apollo 12 and 14 seismometers. The resulting seismic signal lasted for 1.5 hr and was recorded by both instruments.


The command module splashed down in the Pacific Ocean approximately 1 km from the target point at 20:24 GMT, February 9, 1971.



Apollo 15 (AS-510)


Exploration of Hadley-Apennine Region


Apollo 15 was the fourth mission to land men on the Moon. This mission was the first flight of the Lunar Roving Vehicle which astronauts used to explore the geology of the Hadley Rille/Apennine region. The LRV allowed Apollo 15, 16 and 17 astronauts to venture further from the Lunar Module than in previous missions. Total surface traverses increased from hundreds of meters during earlier missions to tens of kilometers during Apollo 15 and 16 and just over 100 kilometers during Apollo 17.


Mission Summary


The successful Apollo 15 manned lunar landing mission was the first in a series of three advanced missions planned for the Apollo program. Its primary scientific objectives were to observe the lunar surface, survey and sample material and surface features in a preselected area of the Hadley-Apennine region, setup and activate surface experiments, and conduct inflight experiments and photographic tasks from lunar orbit.

The space vehicle with a crew of David R. Scott, commander; Alfred J. Worden, command module pilot; and James B. Irwin, lunar module (LM) pilot, was launched on schedule from the NASA Kennedy Space Center, Fla., at 9:34:00 a.m. EST on July 26, 1971.


At 22:04:09 GMT on July 30, the LM descent propulsion system was fired for powered-descent initiation. The LM landed approximately 12 minutes later with sufficient propellant remaining to provide an additional hover time of 103 seconds, had it been required.


During a lunar stay of 66 hr 54 min 53 sec, a 33-min standup extravehicular activity (EVA) and three periods of surface EVA totaling approximately 18.5 hr were performed.


The astronauts were able to collect samples from the low dark plains (maria), the Apennine highlands, and the area along Hadley Rille, a long, narrow winding valley.


Approximately 76 kg of lunar material including soil, rock, core-tube, and deep-core samples were returned to Earth.


Traverses during the three EVA periods were enhanced by use of a Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV). An average speed of 9.6 km/hr was achieved, and speeds up to 12 km/hr were attained over level lunar terrain. The total distance traveled, was 27.9 km, corresponding to a map distance of approximately 25.3 km.


Liftoff of the LM ascent stage occurred at 17:11:23 GMT on August 2 and was monitored by the ground-command television assembly mounted on the LRV. Commanded from Earth, the television assembly was planned to provide coverage after liftoff of the lunar surface and of a lunar eclipse on August 6. Although the television assembly operated successfully during all three EVA periods, the elevation clutch began to slip during the second EVA, and operation deteriorated during the rest of the mission. When activated about 40 hr after LM liftoff, the unit operated satisfactorily for 13 minutes then failed.


Although entry was nominal and all three main parachutes deployed initially, one parachute collapsed before spashdown. However, the CM was landed safely at 20:45:53 GMT, August 7, 1971.


Mission Objectives


First of the Apollo J mission series which were capable of longer stay times on the Moon and greater surface mobility, Apollo 15 had four primary objectives which fall into the general categories of lunar surface science, lunar orbital science, and engineering/operational.


The mission objectives were:

To explore the Hadley-Apennine region

To set up and activate lunar surface scientific experiments

To make engineering evaluations of new Apollo equipment

To conduct lunar orbital experiments and photographic tasks.


Exploration and geological investigations at the Hadley-Apennine site were enhanced by the addition of the lunar roving vehicle that allowed Scott and Irwin to travel greater distances from the LM than they could on foot during their three EVAs. The Apollo lunar surface experiment package (ALSEP) was the third operating ALSEP along with Apollo 12 and 14.


Orbital science experiments were primarily concentrated in an array of instruments and cameras in the scientific instrument module (SIM) bay of the spacecraft service module. Command module pilot Worden operated these instruments during the period he was flying solo and again for two days following the return of the astronauts from the lunar surface. After transearth injection, he went on an EVA to retrieve film cassettes from the SIM bay.


Engineering and operational tasks the Apollo 15 crew carried out included , 1) evaluation of the modifications to the lunar module which was made for carrying a heavier payload and for a lunar stay time of almost three days, 2) changes to the Apollo spacesuit and to the portable life support system, and 3) performance of the LRV.



Apollo 16 (AS-511)


Landing in the Descartes highlands


Apollo 16 was the fifth mission to land men on the moon and return them to Earth. It was also the second flight of the Lunar Roving Vehicle. Apollo 16 landed in a highlands area, a region not yet explored on the Moon. Astronauts collected samples, took photographs and conducted experiments that included the first use of an ultraviolet camera/spectrograph on the Moon.


Mission Summary


The successful Apollo 16 manned lunar landing mission was the second in a series of three science-oriented J series missions planned for the Apollo program. The major objective of the mission was to investigate the lunar surface in the Descartes highlands area because it was considered to be representative of much of the Moon's surface, and an area of this type had not been previously visited.

The Apollo 16 space vehicle was launched from the Kennedy Space Center (Launch Complex 39A) at 12:55:00 p.m. EST on April 16, 1972. The crew members for this mission were John W. Young, Commander, Thomas K. Mattingly II, Command Module Pilot, and Charles M. Duke, Jr., Lunar Module Pilot.


The lunar module (LM) landed approximately 276 meters northwest of the planned landing site at about 104.5 hours ground elapsed time (GET). About 100 seconds of hover time remained at touchdown.


The first extravehicular activity (EVA) was initiated at 119 GET. Television coverage of surface activity was delayed until the lunar roving vehicle (LRV) systems were activated because the steerable antenna on the LM could not be used. A major part of the first EVA was devoted to establishing the nuclear powered, automatic scientific station called Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package (ALSEP). The duration of the first EVA was approximately 7 hours 11 minutes and a distance of 4.2 kilometers was traveled.


The second and third EVA's were devoted primarily to geological exploration and sample gathering in selected areas in the vicinity of the landing site. On the second EVA, the astronauts traveled south-southeast to a sampling area near Cinco Crater on Stone Mountain. The crew also made stops near Stubby and Wreck Craters, The duration of the second EVA was approximately 7 hours 23 minutes and a distance of 11.1 kilometers traveled.


The third and final EVA was to North Ray Crater and "House Rock", on the rim of North Ray Crater. The LRV traverse was 11.4 kilometers and lasted approximately 5 hours 40 minutes.


Total lunar surface activities lasted 20 hours 14 minutes and 95 kilograms of samples were collected. These rocks represented samples of the ancient lunar highlands. The total distance traveled in the LRV was 26.7 kilometers and the crew remained on the lunar surface 71 hours.


Entry and landing were normal. The command module was viewed on television while on the drogue parachutes and continuous coverage was provided through crew recovery. Total time for the Apollo 16 mission was 265 hours, 51 minutes and 5 seconds.


Mission Objectives


Apollo 16 astronauts explored the Descartes region, the first opportunity to explore the lunar highlands. The site was some 2,2500 meters (7,400 feet) higher than the Apollo 11 site. Preliminary geological analysis of the highlands indicates that the Moon's crust underwent modification early in its history. By studying these modification processes, NASA hoped to achieve a better understanding of the development of this portion of the Moon's surface as well as the development of the Earth's crust, its continents, and ocean basins.


The three basic objectives were:

To explore and sample the materials and surface features

To set up and activate experiments on the lunar surface which would continue to relay data back to Earth after the crew returned

To conduct inflight experiments and photographic tasks.


The lunar roving vehicle, used for the first time on Apollo 15, extended the range of the exploration and geological investigations that Young and Duke would make during their three seven-hour EVAs. The Apollo lunar surface experiment package (ALSEP) which the crew deployed became the fourth in a network of lunar surface scientific stations (along with the Apollo 12, 14, and 15 ALSEPs).


The scientific instrument module (SIM) bay in the service module was the heart of the inflight experiment effort on Apollo 16. Quite similar to the SIM bay flown on Apollo 15, the bay contained high-resolution and mapping cameras and scientific sensors for photographing and measuring properties of the lunar surface and the environment around the Moon.


Engineering and operational tasks the Apollo 16 crew carried out included further evaluation of the LRV and Skylab crew equipment, and use of the SIM bay subsatellite as a navigation tracking aid. Other medical experiments included a biostack, ALFMED, and the passive bone mineral measurement.


Event: 1972-04-00; Apollo 16



Apollo 17 (AS-512)


The Last Manned Lunar Landing


Apollo 17 was the last Apollo mission to land men on the Moon. It carried the only trained geologist to walk on the lunar surface, lunar module pilot Harrison Schmitt. Compared to previous Apollo missions, Apollo 17 astronauts traversed the greatest distance using the Lunar Roving Vehicle and returned the greatest amount of rock and soil samples. Eugene Cernan, commander of Apollo 17, still holds the distinction of being the last man to walk on the Moon, as no humans have visited the Moon since December 14, 1972.


Mission Summary


The successful Apollo 17 manned lunar landing mission was the last in a series of three J-type missions planned for the Apollo Program. The J-type missions have been characterized by extended hardware capability, by a scientific payload larger than the previous G- and H-series missions and by use of a battery powered lunar roving vehicle (LRV). As a result of these additions, the Apollo 17 mission had a duration of 12.6 days, and a time on the lunar surface of 75 hr with a total surface traverse distance of approximately 35 km.

The Saturn V carrying Apollo 17 was launched from NASA John F. Kennedy Space Center at 05:33:00 UT on December 7, 1972 (11:33:00 p.m. CST on December 6, 1972).


The landing site was on the southeastern rim of Mare Serenitatis in a dark deposit between massif units of the southwestern Montes Taurus.


Scientific objectives included geological surveying and sampling of materials and surface features in a preselected area of the Taurus-Littrow region, deploying and activating surface experiments, and conducting inflight experiments and photographic tasks during lunar orbit and transearth coast.


Lunar orbit insertion, executed at 19:47:23 GMT on December 10, placed the spacecraft into a lunar orbit of 170.0 by 52.6 nautical miles. Following a nominal descent sequence, the spacecraft landed at 19:54:57 GMT on December 11 in a valley at Taurus-Littrow, less than 200 m from the preferred landing point.


The first lunar surface EVA began at 23:54:49 GMT on December 11, with Cernan stepping out of the spacecraft at 00:01:00 GMT on December 12. Deployment of the Apollo lunar-surface experiments package (ALSEP) and the cosmic ray experiment took place during EVA-1. Duration of this EVA was 7 hr 12 min.


The second EVA began at 23:28:06 GMT on December 12. Using the LRV, samples from Nansen Crater, Lara Crater and others were collected. Traverses, core samples and trenches were dug at different stations. This EVA lasted 7 hr 37 min.


During EVA-3, sampling stops were made and traverse gravimeter measurements were taken. Additional explosive packages for the Lunar Seismic Profiling Experiment were also deployed. One of the final science activities was the retrieval of the neutron flux probe from the deep drill core hole. The third EVA ended at 05:40:56 GMT on December 14.


The LM ascent stage lifted off the Moon at 22:54:37 GMT on December 14. Lift-off and ascent were recorded by the ground-commanded television assembly on the LRV. After docking with the CSM, the ascent stage was sent back to the lunar surface. Its impact was recorded by the four Apollo 17 geophones and by each ALSEP at the Apollo 12, 14, 15 and 16 landing sites.


Mission Objectives


The final mission in the Apollo lunar exploration program was to gather information on yet another type of geological formation and add to the network of automatic scientific stations. The Taurus-Littrow landing site offered a combination of mountainous highlands and valley lowlands from which to sample surface materials. The Apollo 17 Lunar Surface Experiment Package (ALSEP) had four experiments never before flown, and became the fifth in the lunar surface scientific station network. At that time, data were being relayed to Earth from ALSEPs at the Apollo 12, 14, 15, and 16 landing sites.


The three basic objectives of Apollo 17 were :

To explore and sample the materials and surface features at Taurus-Littrow

To set up and activate experiments on the lunar surface for long-term relay of data

To conduct inflight experiments and photographic tasks


The scientific instrument module (SIM) bay in the service module is the heart of the inflight experiments effort on Apollo 17. The SIM bay contains three experiments never flown before in addition to high-resolution and mapping cameras for photographing and measuring properties of the lunar surface and the enviroment around the Moon.


The range of exploration and geological investigations made by Cernan and Schmitt at Taurus-Littrow was extended by the electric-powered lunar roving vehicle. Cernan and Schmitt conducted three seven-hour EVAs.


Apollo 17 would spend an additional two days in lunar orbit after the landing crew returned from the surface. This period was spent in conducting orbital science experiments and expanding the fund of high-resolution photography of the Moon's surface.


Event: 1972-12-07; Apollo 17



Apollo 18


7/17/1975 -

Superpowers Meet in Space:

As part of a mission aimed at developing space rescue capability, the U.S. spacecraft Apollo 18 and the Soviet spacecraft Soyuz 19 rendezvous and dock in space.



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