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

Sep 28

Space Rocket History #178 – Apollo 9 – The Crew – McDivitt, Scott, Schweickart

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.

James McDivitt

James McDivitt

David Scott

David Scott

Russell Schweickart

Russell Schweickart

Sep 14

Space Rocket History #177 – Apollo 9 – Preparations

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

The Command Module probe and the Lunar Module Drogue

McDivitt & Schweickart practice in the LM simulator

McDivitt & Schweickart practice in the LM simulator

Schweickart in the spacesuit with the backpack

Schweickart in the spacesuit with the backpack

Lithograph print of the negative that flew on Apollo 9, with signatures of Grumman engineers and mechanics

Lithograph print of the negative that flew on Apollo 9, with signatures of Grumman engineers and mechanics

Aug 03

Space Rocket History #171 – Apollo 8 – The Reaction

New York City welcomed the Apollo 8 crew with a ticker-tape parade on the 10th of January, Newark hailed them on the 11th, and Miami greeted them on the 12th during the Super Bowl game. The Astronauts returned to Houston on the 13th for a hometown parade. Incoming President Richard M. Nixon sent Borman and his family on an eight-nation goodwill tour of western Europe. Everywhere they went, the astronauts depicted the earth as a spaceship and stressed international cooperation in space.

Borman, Anders, Lovell, on the flight deck of the carrier U.S.S. Yorktown, recovery ship Dec. 27, 1968.

Borman, Anders, Lovell, on the flight deck of the carrier U.S.S. Yorktown, recovery ship Dec. 27, 1968.

Lovell, Borman, and Anders (left to right) - back on the earth after their Apollo 8 mission, tell what they saw

Lovell, Borman, and Anders (left to right) – back on the earth after their Apollo 8 mission, tell what they saw

The Crew of Apollo 8 on the cover of Time Magazine

The Crew of Apollo 8 on the cover of Time Magazine

Jul 27

Space Rocket History #170 – Apollo 8 – The Voyage Home

Even a perfect reentry would subject the Apollo 8 command module to extreme stress.  With Gemini, the capsule re-entered from Earth orbit, but Apollo 8 would re-enter at approximated 25,000 miles per hour.  The forces of heat and deceleration would be much greater.

Kraft, Gilruth, and Trimble in Mission Control

Kraft, Gilruth, and Trimble in Mission Control

Carr, Slayton, Armstrong (seated), Schmitt & Aldrin (standing) compare Lunar Orbiter photos with Apollo 8 TV pics

Carr, Slayton, Armstrong (seated), Schmitt & Aldrin (standing) compare Lunar Orbiter photos with Apollo 8 TV pics

Apollo 8 splashdown

Apollo 8 splashdown

Jul 20

Space Rocket History #169 – Apollo 8 – Christmas 1968

Bill Anders:
“We are now approaching lunar sunrise, and for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you.”
“‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
‘And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
‘And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
‘And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.'”
Jim Lovell:
“‘And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
‘And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
‘And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
‘And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.’”
Frank Borman:
“‘And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
‘And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.'”
“And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas – and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth.”

By T. Rednour. Tumbler Blog missionstepstothemoon.

By T. Rednour. Tumbler Blog missionstepstothemoon.

Apollo 8 Christmas Eve

Apollo 8 Christmas Eve

Apollo 8 Christmas Eve around the Moon

Apollo 8 Christmas Eve around the Moon

Jul 13

Space Rocket History #168 – Apollo 8 – Lunar Orbit and Earthrise

As Apollo 8 drifted above the far side of the moon Borman, Lovell, and Anders observed a scene of total desolation.  It appeared absent of color, except for various shades of gray.  There was no atmosphere to soften the view, it was a scene of extreme clarity.

Far side of the Moon as seen from Apollo 8

Far side of the Moon as seen from Apollo 8

Far side of the Moon from Apollo 8

Far side of the Moon from Apollo 8

Earthrise from Apollo 8

Earthrise from Apollo 8