The Spectacular Apollo Missions

Bogdan U. August 15, 2014 1
The Spectacular Apollo Missions

The modern society might have been familiar with the Apollo mission due to its portrayal in movies and documentaries. However, what really was it about the Apollo mission that made it extremely significant to the modern world? Learn more about the history of Apollo mission by reading through this article.

Throughout the span of the Apollo project, the NASA mission was able to conduct 33 flights. The ones considered as the earliest flights did not bring with them human crews. They were simply conducted to test launch vehicle, as well as the Apollo spacecraft even before attempting to complete a lunar mission.

NASA named 15 of those flights as Apollo. Eleven of them brought humans. Six were able to land men on the moon successfully, with the first one making the first steps on the moon by a human being. They were also able to return safely to our planet.

Unmanned Missions

Missions SA-1 up to SA-5 were unmanned. Their primary goal was to test the capabilities of the launch vehicle Saturn 1, a two stage rocket which used kerosene and liquid oxygen as fuel. The next missions, A-101 to A-105, were tests that carried an Apollo spacecraft mockup which is called boilerplate. The instruments inside has the capacity to measure the stresses of the equipment, as well as of the astronauts throughout an entire mission.

Missions A-001 to A-004 were designed to test abort procedures of the Apollo space programme mission. This also included the LES (Launch Escape System). Missions AS-201 to AS-203 tested the launch vehicle Saturn 1B, as well as the Apollo spacecraft. The launch vehicle was an upgrade. These missions were also set to test the propulsion systems of the Apollo spacecraft. The next unmanned missions were named Apollo 4 to Apollo 6. It is worthy to note that NASA did not name any spacecraft Apollo 2 and 3.

Manned Missions

The crew of Apollo 11, being visited by President Nixon upon their return on Earth.

The crew of Apollo 11, being visited by President Nixon upon their return on Earth.

Apollo 1 was launched on January 27, 1967. It was a test in which the goal was to simulate the launch conditions. It was not supposed to take off. However, three astronauts were killed due to a flash fire inside the spacecraft during one of the launchpad tests conducted. Later on investigators found out that the possible causes of the fire included the spacecraft’s environment which is oxygen rich.

Apollo 7 to Apollo 10 were the first manned missions. They tested the performance of the spacecraft. Apollo 7 even entered the orbit of the Earth for some rotations before finally landing. Apollo 8 entered a lunar orbit, being the first one to do so. Apollo 9 tested the lunar module. Apollo 10 tested the procedures and systems needed for a landing on the moon, but they did not yet land on the moon at that time.

Apollo 11 was the mission which allowed the possibility of humans to set the first steps on the moon. It happened on the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969.  Apollo 12 made the second landing on the moon; this time making precision as its goal. Apollo 13 was initially purposed to land on the moon for the third time, but there was a malfunction, causing the abortion of the mission.

Apollo 15 to Apollo 17 were the three final Apollo missions set to test the capabilities of equipment and astronauts to stay longer on the surface of the moon. The spacecraft was modified in order to bring along equipment and sensors. This included a wheeled vehicle which is called lunar rover.

Following, for more about this topic, we invite you to watch the full-length Apollo 40th anniversary documentary:

All throughout the program of the Apollo missions, NASA has been refining the designs of their spacecrafts and launch vehicle. As a result, they have contributed to the gathering of data used in modern discoveries.


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