On the fourth day of the flight of Apollo 9, Schweickart felt better than expected as he worked his way into the lander to get it ready for the EVA. By the time he had put on the backpack, McDivitt was ready to let him do more – to stand on the lunar lander porch at least.
Lunar Module to Command Module transfer procedure
Schweickart on the porch of the Lunar Module
Scott standing in the open hatch of the Command Module
As Dave Scott pulled in closer to the Lunar Module he noticed that the command module’s nose was out of line with the lander’s nose. Scott tried to use a service module thruster to turn left, but that jet was not operating. It turns out that someone had accidentally bumped a switch that turned off one set of Thrusters. The crew then flipped the correct switches, and the thruster started working, and at T+3 hours 2 minutes the command module probe nestled into the lunar Module drogue, where it was captured and held by the 12 latches. The first docking of the Lunar Module in space was achieved. As a side note, switch guards were installed on all future Apollo missions to prevent accidentally flipping a switch.
LM on S-VIB stage preparing to dock with the Command Module
For the 19th flight of American astronauts into space, Vice President Spiro T. Agnew, representing the new administration of Richard Nixon, sat in the firing control room viewing area on March 3rd, 1969. He and other guests listened to the countdown of the Saturn-Apollo structure several kilometers away at the edge of the Florida beach.
Apollo 9 crew: McDivitt, Scott, Schweickart
Wernher von Braun waiting for launch with Vice President Spiro Agnew
James Alton “Jim” McDivitt was born on June 10, 1929, in Chicago, Illinois. He is of Irish descent. Like many other astronauts, he was a Boy Scout and earned the rank of Tenderfoot Scout. He graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School, Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1947.
From our small world we have gazed upon the cosmic ocean for thousands of years. Ancient astronomers observed points of light that appeared to move among the stars. They called these objects planets, meaning wanderers, and named them after Roman deities — Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Venus, and Saturn, and Jupiter. The stargazers also observed comets with sparkling tails, and meteors or shooting stars apparently falling from the sky.
Often, the early rocket pioneers are lost in the shadows of time. The space rockets of today are the result of more than 2,000 years of invention, experimentation, and discovery. The foundations for modern rocketry were laid, first by observation and inspiration and then by methodical research.
The biggest concern before Apollo 9 was the docking maneuver.In early 1969, at NASA there was little confidence in the docking system. At a January program review, Phillips said that problems encountered during probe and drogue testing worried him…
The Command Module probe and the Lunar Module Drogue
McDivitt & Schweickart practice in the LM simulator
Schweickart in the spacesuit with the backpack
Lithograph print of the negative that flew on Apollo 9, with signatures of Grumman engineers and mechanics
Finally, on the morning of February 21, all the population of the N1 assembly area and a residential area, situated just south of the launch pad, was ordered to evacuate. The giant service structure then rolled away leaving the dark-gray rocket with a white payload fairing towering under sunny skies. The weather was extremely cold, with temperatures falling to minus 44 C degrees, and stormy winds. In the fortified firing control room, the Commander of the 6th Directorate, took the firing command position at the main periscope…
Apollo CSM/LM vs. Soviet L3 Complex. Credit Mark Wade
N1 image taken by US KH-8 Reconnaissance satellite