The Apollo Society
Apollo Anthology


Shoot for the Moon!
- A Brief Outline of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo Space Programs (1961 - 1972)
by Gregory A. Smith
Edited by Chris Peterson


Shoot for the Moon!

* * * * * * *

The Mercury Program

On May 5, 1961, Alan B. Shepard, Jr., became America's first man in space with his suborbital flight of the Mercury spacecraft "Freedom 7."

Within 3 weeks of Shepard's flight, President John F. Kennedy, told Congress; "I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth."


The Mercury 7


Alan B. Shepard, Jr.

Mercury 7 astronauts Gus Grissom, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Wally Schirra and Gordon Cooper each followed Shepard with their own Mercury missions. Donald K. "Deke" Slayton, selected to fly MA-7 (Mercury-Atlas-7) was grounded by NASA flight surgeons for an irregularity in his heartbeat. Deke became NASA's "Chief Astronaut," and finally got into space "only thirteen years overdue" with the flight of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in July, 1975. The Mercury program taught us how to reach, work in, and return from space.

The Gemini Program


Ed White - Space Walking

The 10 crewed Gemini flights; Gemini 3 through Gemini 12, from 1965 through 1966, were the first space missions to rendevous and dock with other spacecraft in orbit and to test astronauts and hardware for up to 2 weeks in Earth orbit. Gemini astronauts also conducted extensive EVA's (Extra Vehicular Activities - space walks). Ed White became the first American to walk in space from his Gemini 4 spacecraft launched June 3, 1965.

Only Gemini 3, the first crewed Gemini spacecraft, had a call sign; "Molly Brown." Command pilot Gus Grissom, whose Mercury spacecraft sank and was lost after splashdown in the Atlantic, jokingly named his Gemini spacecraft in reference to the heroine of the musical comedy "The Unsinkable Molly Brown."

The Apollo Program

APOLLO 1

January 27, 1967

Virgil I. Grissom * Edward H. White II * Roger Chaffee

* * * * * * *

Apollo astronauts Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, Edward H. White II, and Roger Chaffee sacrificed their lives for the space program when a fire swept through their Apollo Command Module during a pre-flight test at Pad 34, Kennedy Space Center, Cape Kennedy, Florida, January 27, 1967.

The success of the Apollo space program is founded on the lessons learned in the tragedy of Apollo 1.

* * * * * * *

APOLLO 7


Apollo 7 Launch - The Maiden Voyage

The Apollo program arose from the ashes of Apollo 1 with the successful launch of Apollo 7 on October 11, 1968. Commander Walter "Wally" M. Schirra, Jr., Command Module Pilot Donn F. Eisele, and Lunar Module Pilot R. Walter Cunningham checked out the re-engineered Apollo Command and Service Module for the maiden crewed voyage of Apollo space program.

* * * * * * *

APOLLO 8


Apollo 8 Patch

Launched on December 21, 1968, Apollo 8 Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot James A. Lovell, Jr., and Lunar Module Pilot William A. Anders became the first human interplanetary space explorers when they left the bounds of Earth's gravity well and flew their Apollo 8 spacecraft for a 10 orbit swing around the Moon.


From the crew of Apollo 8
The crew of Apollo 8 brought back the first photograph of the Earth as a globe in space; a Christmas gift to humanity.

* * * * * * *

APOLLO 9


Apollo 9, launched March 3, 1969, was the first flight test Saturn V/Apollo Spacecraft in full lunar mission configuration. Apollo 9 conducted tests of the Command Module and the Lunar Module in Earth orbit.

Command Module Pilot David R. Scott, was left alone to fly the Command Module named "Gumdrop," while Mission Commander James A. McDivitt, and Lunar Module Pilot Russell L. Schweickart tested the spindly legged lunar lander they called "Spider."


Spider

* * * * * * *

APOLLO 10

 Earthrise from Apollo 10

Apollo 10, launched on May 18, 1969, was a full dress rehearsal of the landing mission and also a reconnaisance mission in which potential landing sites were reconnoitered. After separating from the Command Module named "Charlie Brown" and dropping from lunar orbit at 60 miles down to 50,000 feet, Mission Commander Thomas P. Stafford and Lunar Module Pilot Eugene A. Cernan barnstormed the mountains of the moon at 3,700 mph in their Lunar Module called "Snoopy." As they skimmed over the mountains of the Moon, Gene Cernan called out; "Houston, this is Snoopy! We is Go and we is down among' em, Charlie!"

At the low point in their trajectory, the crew attempted to release their decent stage. Immediately the spacecraft began pitching up and down and violently yawing left and right. "We've got some wild gyrations." Cernan announced as he wrestled with the controls. For 8 tense seconds the crew fought to regain control of their ship. "Hit the AGS!" Cernan yelled to Stafford to deactivate the Abort Guidance System. Somehow an abort system switch had been left in an incorrect position. This caused the spacecraft to begin radar searching and firing rockets in an attempt to find its mother ship, "Charley Brown." The quick thinking of the skilled crew brought their ship back under control and headed back up to a rendevous with the Command ship and Command Module Pilot John W. Young for a flight home to Earth. If the crew of Snoopy had not reacted as swiftly as they had, after another 2 seconds, their spacecraft would have locked into a dive that would have crashed Apollo 10 on the Moon.

The Apollo Lunar Landing Missions

1969-1972

* * * * * * *

APOLLO 11

LAUNCH

LUNAR LANDING

SPLASHDOWN

July 16, 1969

July 20, 1969

July 24, 1969

CREW

SPACECRAFT

TIME ON MOON

CMDR: Neil A. Armstrong
CM Pilot: Michael Collins
LM Pilot: Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin

CM: Columbia
LM: Eagle

21.6 hours

MET 109:24:13 Neil Armstrong: "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for Mankind"


APOLLO 12

LAUNCH

LUNAR LANDING

SPLASHDOWN

November 14, 1969

November 19, 1969

November 24, 1969

CREW

SPACECRAFT

TIME ON MOON

CMDR: Charles (Pete) Conrad, Jr.
CM Pilot: Richard F. Gordon
LM Pilot: Alan L. Bean

CM: Yankee Clipper
LM: Intrepid

31.5 hours

MET 115:22:16 Pete Conrad: "Whoopie! Man, that may have been a small one for Neil, but that's a long one for me."


APOLLO 13

LAUNCH

LUNAR LANDING

SPLASHDOWN

April 11, 1970

Landing Aborted

April 17, 1970

CREW

SPACECRAFT

TIME ON MOON

CMDR: James A. Lovell
CM Pilot: John L. Swigert, Jr.
LM Pilot: Fred W. Haise, Jr.

CM: Odyssey
LM: Aquarius

Landing Aborted

MET 55:55:35 Jim Lovell: "Houston, we've had a problem."


APOLLO 14

LAUNCH

LUNAR LANDING

SPLASHDOWN

January 31, 1971

February 5, 1971

February 9, 1971

CREW

SPACECRAFT

TIME ON MOON

CMDR: Alan B. Shepard, Jr.
CM Pilot: Stuart A. Roosa
LM Pilot: Edgar D. Mitchell

CM: Kitty Hawk
LM: Antares

33.5 hours

MET 115:52:33 Alan Shepard: "Nothing like being up to your armpits in lunar dust!"


APOLLO 15

LAUNCH

LUNAR LANDING

SPLASHDOWN

July 26, 1971

July 30, 1971

August 7, 1971

CREW

SPACECRAFT

TIME ON MOON

CMDR: David R. Scott
CM Pilot: Alfred M. Worden
LM Pilot: James B. Irwin

CM: Endeavor
LM: Falcon

66.9 hous

MET 119:55:45 David Scott: "Okay, Houston, As I stand out here in the wonders of the
unknown at Hadley, I sort of realize there's a fundamental
truth to our nature; Man must explore. And this is exploration
at its greatest!"

APOLLO 16

LAUNCH

LUNAR LANDING

SPLASHDOWN

April 16, 1972

April 21, 1972

April 27, 1972

CREW

SPACECRAFT

TIME ON MOON

CMDR: John W. Young
CM Pilot: Thomas K. Mattingly, II,
LM Pilot: Charles M. Duke, Jr.

CM: Casper
LM: Orion

71 hous

MET 119:04:05 John Young: "...I'm sure glad they got ol' Brer Rabbit, here, back in the briar patch where he belongs."

APOLLO 17

LAUNCH

LUNAR LANDING

SPLASHDOWN

December 6, 1972

December 11, 1972

December 19, 1972

CREW

SPACECRAFT

TIME ON MOON

CMDR: Eugene A. Cernan
CM Pilot: Ronald E. Evans
LM Pilot: Harrison H. (Jack) Schmitt

CM: America
LM: Challenger

75 hous

MET 170:41:00 Gene Cernan: "...as we leave the Moon at Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind."

Acronyms:

MET = Mission Elapsed Time (usually initiating at time of launch)
CMDR = Mission Commander
CM = Command Module
LM = Lunar Module


Bibliography:

A Man on the Moon; Andrew Chaikin (1994), Viking Penguin, ISBN: 0-670-81446-6

Lost Moon; Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger (1994), Houghton Mifflin Co. ISBN: 0-395-67029-2,

Moon Shot; Alan Shepard & Deke Slayton (1994), Turner Publishing, Inc. ISBN 1-878685-54-6

This New Ocean; NASA SP-4201

Space Almanac - 2nd Edition

Deke! - Slayton/Cassutt

Apollo Expeditions to the Moon; NASA SP-350 (1975) Edited by Edgar M. Cortright TL789.8.U6A513 629.45'4 75-600071

Apollo 11-17 Voice Transcripts Pertaining to the Geology of the Landing Site by N.G. Bailey and G.E. Ulrich, USGS

Web Sites Referenced:

APOLLO Lunar Surface Journal (Edited by Eric M. Jones)
 http://venus.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/alsj/

National Air and Space Museum - Apollo Manned Space Program
 http://www.nasm.edu/APOLLO/Apollo.html

NASA Kennedy Space Center - Historical Archive
 http://www.ksc.nasa.gov/history/history.html


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