Apollo 9 is the name of a mission of the Programme Apollo. It was about the third manned flight of the program, the second launched with the space Fusée Saturn V and the first in-flight test of the Lunar module. The mission consisted in accomplishing a flight of ten days in low Terrestrial orbit. The launcher Saturn V took off of the Space center Kennedy the March 3rd 1969 at 11 a.m. (local time).
It is the first time that a complete configuration for a future lunar landing is launched: the Saturn launcher, the module of order (CSM Gumdrop ) and the Lunar module (LM Spider ). The goal of this mission was to test this last, controlled by Mc Divitt and Schweickart, which will move away of almost 180 km to the Apollo vehicle (controlled by Scott). After having released the stage of descent of the lunar module, it carried out a mooring in manual piloting.
Equip and crew
The crew of Apollo 9 comprised three members:
- James McDivitt: commander;
- David Scott: pilot of the module of order;
- Russell Schweickart : pilot of the lunar module.
If one or several members of the crew would be unable to fulfill their mission at the time of launching, a temporary crew had been trained:
- Dick Gordon (Gemini 11, Apollo 12): pilot of the temporary module of order;
- Alan Bean (Apollo 12, Skylab 3): pilot of the temporary lunar module;
On the ground, for the preparation, and in flight, for the technical support:
- Jack Lousma (Skylab 3, STS-3);
- Edgar Mitchell (Apollo 14);
- Al Worden (Apollo 15).
The direction of the flight was distributed to three teams, allotted each one of a color ( white , gold , orange ). The directors of each team were:
Gene Kranz ( white TEAM );
- Gerald Griffin ( gold TEAM );
- Pete Frank ( orange TEAM ).
Mission Apollo 9
Original plan of the mission
In October 1967, it was decided that following the first live mission intended to test the module of order, Apollo 7, the second live mission (“mission D”) was to try the launching of the module of order on Saturn IB, then the lunar module over one second space Fusée Saturn IB to carry out an operation of meeting in orbit. McDivitt, Scott and Schweickart were assigned to this mission, then Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders is transfered intended for a similar mission (“mission E”) which was this time to use a launcher Saturn V.
However, of the problems of production delayed the preparation of the LM, which would have delayed the course of the mission D in spring 1969. A “mission C premium” was then decided, which would imply the module of order alone, to accomplish a manned flight until the the Moon. The crews (and crews temporary) of the missions C and D were exchanged. The mission C premium became Apollo 8, carried out by Borman, Lovell and Anders. The mission E was finally cancelled: Apollo 9 would be the only test in orbit of the complete system and would use a single launcher Saturn V instead of two Saturn IB.
Unfolding and results
The mission Apollo 9, which carried for the first time all the elements intended to be posed on the Moon, was essentially intended to test the operations implying the lunar module. During ten days, the astronauts were to place the various elements in orbit, then to fasten or detach the lunar module, which they should make to pose it on the Moon then to recover it. Apollo 9 brought the confirmation that the technology developed for the program was ready with the mission.
Starting from this flight, the crew could choose a nickname for their vessel. The lunar module was called “ Spider ” and modulates it of order “ Gumdrop ” — according to the blue cover in which it arrived at the Space center Kennedy.
Schweickart and Scott effectuères of EVA — Schweickart checked the new combination, which embarked its own systems rather than a bond with the vessel, whereas Scott filmed it since a port-hole of the control device. Schweickart was to carry out some tests on the combination, to make sure in particular that an exit on the Moon was possible. Other checks were to confirm the possibility of the use of the combinations in the event of urgency, but it was reached Mal of space and ceased the tests.
McDivitt and Schweickart tested the LM by testing the operations of separation and stowing in orbit. They moved away the LM to 178 km from the Gumdrop with its engine from descent, then returned with the upward engine.
The sea landing took place with 23°15' NR, 67°56' W, to 290 km of the Bahamas. The vessel was recovered by the US Guadalcanal .
The crew sang To You Happy birthday on March 8th 1969.
Parameters of mission
Code name of the mission: SA-504
- Takeoff on March 3rd 1969 with 16:00: 00 UTC of the Launch Complex 39-A (LC-39A) of the Space center Kennedy;
- Sea landing on March 13rd, 1969 with 17:00: 54 UTC, with 23°15 ′ NR, 67°56 ′ W;
- Module of order/service: C/SM 104 “ Gumdrop ”;
- Lunar module: LM 3 “ Spider ”.
- Mass: CSM: 26.801 kg — LM: 14.575 kg
- Perigee 189,5 km
- Apogee: 192,4 km
- Slope: 32,57°
- Period: 88,64 min
Stowing LM - CSM
- Schweickart - EVA - LM
Scott - EVA - CM
Badge of the crew
The badge of the mission represents a rocket Saturn V on which three letters the USA are registered in red. On its line, a Apollo module points towards a lunar module. The trail of the Apollo module draws a circle of fire.
The name of the team members is registered in white, as well as the name of mission in capital letters “APOLLO IX”. The letter “D” of the name of McDivitt is filled with red, to indicate which acts of the “mission D” in the alphabetical sequence of the missions Apollo.
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