On May 18th 1969, a king, some congressmen, other distinguished guests, and a hundred thousand other watchers waited at scattered vantage points around the Cape area. At 49 minutes past noon, Rocco Petrone’s launch team sent Apollo 10 on its way to the United States’s second manned rendezvous with the moon.
John Young enjoyed the longest career of any astronaut thus far. Over the course of 42 years of active NASA service he made six space flights and is the only person to have piloted, and been commander of, four different classes of spacecraft: Gemini, the Apollo Command/Service Module, the Apollo Lunar Module, and the Space Shuttle.
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.
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.
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
For now the mighty Saturn V stood empty. But overnight, even while Borman’s crew slept, technicians would ready it for departure. By morning its enormous fuel thanks would be filled with cryogenic propellants, until the rocket would contain the explosive energy of an atomic bomb.