Monday, May 18, 2009

Apollo 10 Launched 40 years ago Today

1969. Flower power. Laugh-In on NBC-TV. Vietnam. And America's climb toward the the first moon landing.

The National Aeronautics & Space Administration and America celebrated great success the previous Christmas with the first manned spacecraft to orbit the moon - Apollo 8. Following Apollo 9, which tested the moon landing spacecraft in earth orbit in March, NASA was ready to test the Lunar Module with a powered descent to several thousand feet above the lunar surface.

Commanded by Thomas P. Stafford, Apollo 10 included John W. Young (command module pilot) and Eugene Cernan (lunar module pilot).

It would be Stafford and Cernan who would undock in the LM known as
Snoopy from the CM called Charlie Brown to fly down to about 5 1/2 miles altitude as a dry run for the actual landing that July.

After a flawless countdown, liftoff of the Apollo 10 mission occurred forty years ago today - May 18, 1969 - at 12:49:01 pm EDT, from launch pad 39-B here at the Kennedy Space Center. This was the first ever space launch from 39-B.

Following a trouble-free trip though space and into lunar orbit, the lunar module Snoopy undocked from Charlie Brown on May 22nd to begin the most exciting part of the mission - to get mankind close enough to the moon's surface without landing just to see just how the LM would behave.

As darkness fell over Houston,
Snoopy "snooped" across the Moon, and then rejoined Charlie Brown 8 hours after it first undocked. It was all handshakes as Stafford and Cernan rejoined Young in the command module; and the trio then completed 31 orbits of the moon.

Apollo 10 then headed back to earth orbit, obtaining the fastest speed mankind has ever traveled - over 25,000 mph. The crew landed on May 26th at 12:52 pm EDT, in the Pacific Ocean.

Currently, the Apollo 10 command module Charlie Brown sits on display in the science museum in London, England.

Two days following Apollo 10's launch, engineers and workers at Kennedy moved the mighty Saturn V rocket to launch pad 39-A to prepare for the biggest flight of the 20th century - Apollo 11 and the first manned lunar landing.

No comments:

copyright 1998 - 2010 Charles Atkeison, All rights reserved.