Nov 23

Space Rocket History #186 – Apollo 10 – Commander Thomas P. Stafford

Thomas P. Stafford was the first member of his Naval Academy Class of 1952 to pin on the first, second, and third stars of a General Officer. He flew six rendezvous in space; logged 507 hours and 43 minutes in space flight and wore the Air Force command Pilot Astronaut Wings. He has flown over 127 different types of aircraft and helicopters and four different types of spacecraft.

Stafford & Cernan training in the LM

Stafford & Cernan training in the LM

Apollo 10 crew inspect the emergency slide

Apollo 10 crew inspect the emergency slide

Apollo 10 crew in front of the launch pad

Apollo 10 crew in front of the launch pad

Nov 16

Space Rocket History #185 – Apollo 10 – Preparations

Although the contractors had shipped excellent spacecrafts, preparations at Kennedy did not go quickly from the assembly building to the launch pad. Testing was delayed several days in order to stay out of the way of Apollo 9 pre-flight activities. Also during maintenance to the Launch Control Center, the electrical power was switched off to replace a valve. The Apollo 10 launch vehicle’s pneumatic controls sensed the power outage, opened some valves and dumped 20,000 liters of fuel on the launch pad.

Apollo 10 logo

Apollo 10 logo

Apollo 10 roll out

Apollo 10 roll out

Apollo 10 and crew

Apollo 10 and crew

Nov 09

Space Rocket History #184 – Apollo 9 – The Return

Even before crawling back into the command module, McDivitt said he was tired and ready for a three-day holiday.  Another 140 hours would pass before touchdown in the Atlantic, but the crew had achieved more than 90 percent of the mission objectives.

Rusty Schweickart's Practice Suit for Apollo 9. Pic taken at Wallops

Rusty Schweickart’s Practice Suit for Apollo 9. Pic taken at Wallops

Apollo 9 approaches splashdown

Apollo 9 approaches splashdown

Apollo 9 crew onboard USS Guadalcanal

Apollo 9 crew onboard USS Guadalcanal

Nov 02

Space Rocket History #183 – Apollo 9 – Lunar Module Maneuvers Part 4

When Scott tried to release the lunar module, he did not hold the button long enough so the lander got hung on the capture latches.

LM in lunar landing configuration. Photographed from CM

LM in lunar landing configuration. Photographed from CM

McDivitt & Schweickart show Spider's landing gear to Scott before they pull away

McDivitt & Schweickart show Spider’s landing gear to Scott before they pull away

LM ascent stage photographed from the CM

LM ascent stage photographed from the CM

Oct 26

Space Rocket History #182 – Apollo 9 – Lunar Module Maneuvers Part 3

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

Lunar Module to Command Module transfer procedure

Schweickart on the porch of the Lunar Module

Schweickart on the porch of the Lunar Module

Scott standing in the open hatch of the Command Module

Scott standing in the open hatch of the Command Module

Oct 19

Space Rocket History #181 – Apollo 9 – Lunar Module Maneuvers Part 2

McDivitt later said that the engine had come on abruptly, but with the tremendous mass, acceleration was very slow – it took the whole 5 seconds to add 11 meters per second to the speed.

Example of the CM's docking probe being removed from the inside to allow access to the LM through the tunnel

Example of the CM’s docking probe being removed from the inside to allow access to the LM through the tunnel

Probe and drogue operations

Probe and drogue operations

Schweickart and McDivitt inside the LM

Schweickart and McDivitt inside the LM

Oct 12

Space Rocket History #180 – Apollo 9 – Lunar Module Maneuvers

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

LM on S-VIB stage preparing to dock with the Command Module

Command Module docked with Lunar Module

Command Module docked with Lunar Module

S-IVB stage after the Lunar Module was removed

S-IVB stage after the Lunar Module was removed

Oct 05

Space Rocket History #179 – Apollo 9 – The Launch

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

Apollo 9 crew: McDivitt, Scott, Schweickart

Wernher von Braun waiting for launch with Vice President Spiro Agnew

Wernher von Braun waiting for launch with Vice President Spiro Agnew

Lift off of Apollo 9

Lift off of Apollo 9