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The Chronicler

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50th Anniversary of the Apollo Program
« on: January 26, 2017, 11:30:21 PM »
Over the next six years, we will be observing the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Program, the series of NASA manned missions that ultimately put astronauts on the surface of the Moon.

I'll be posting in this topic as we reach each major milestone and I'll briefly describe them.


Tomorrow, January 27, marks the 50th anniversary of the tragic fire that claimed the lives of all three astronauts on Apollo 1: Gus Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chaffee. The investigation that followed led to a series of adjustments and improvements (such as redesigning the hatch, removing flammable materials, and not having the air inside be pure oxygen), but it would be 20 months before the next crewed mission would attempt to liftoff.

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ADFan185

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50th Anniversary of the Apollo Program
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2017, 03:05:41 AM »
Wow I can't believe it's fifty years already. I remember hearing about this stuff growing up. Good to know that they made some safety changes about the rocket.

DarkWolf91

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50th Anniversary of the Apollo Program
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2017, 03:54:09 PM »
I've always been hugely inspired by the Apollo Program and the moon landing. If anyone's interested in a great way to delve into this history, I recommend both watching the documentary "In the Shadow of the Moon," and reading "Failure Is Not an Option," by Gene Kranz. These give excellent accounts from the perspectives of both the astronauts involved and mission control. Such an amazing human achievement :smile


LBT90321

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50th Anniversary of the Apollo Program
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2017, 08:28:28 PM »
No kidding
Im watching the 1998 Apollo 13 movie tonight
50 years huh? 1967-2017 I guess
Thats one step for man, One giant leap for mankind
Neil Armstrong 1930-2012

action9000

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50th Anniversary of the Apollo Program
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2017, 09:49:04 PM »
Time to load up some Kerbal Space Program!

ADFan185

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50th Anniversary of the Apollo Program
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2017, 10:13:05 AM »
Apollo 13 was a great movie and Tom Hanks did a great job with his character. They had to make scary life saving choices.

The Chronicler

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50th Anniversary of the Apollo Program
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2017, 09:50:22 PM »
Keep in mind, the last Apollo mission, Apollo 17, was in December 1972, so the 50th anniversary of that won't be until almost six years from now. I pretty much intended for this topic to cover the entire series of missions in real time.

As I mentioned, right now is the anniversary of Apollo 1, which had been scheduled to liftoff about a month after the day of the tragic fire. I did manage to recently find an article that explains in detail what happened on that fateful day and the impact that disaster had on the rest of the Apollo Program.
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/nasa-honors-ap...e-50-years-ago/

ADFan185

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50th Anniversary of the Apollo Program
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2017, 11:19:14 PM »
Wow that was horrible that happened to Those astronauts. And it's amazing they still did more apollo missions afterwards.

The Chronicler

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50th Anniversary of the Apollo Program
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2017, 09:00:20 PM »
Today, November 9, is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 4 mission. It was an unmanned mission that lasted almost nine hours and successfully tested all components of the Saturn V rocket that would later take astronauts to the Moon, ending with the command module reentering the Earth's atmosphere at the same speed as if it was returning from the Moon to test the heat shield and safely splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. The mission was designated Apollo 4 because there had already been three unmanned flights using Apollo/Saturn components the previous year in 1966. Also significant about this mission is that it was one of two missions (the other was Apollo 6) on which a camera on the bottom of the second stage filmed that famous footage of the first stage and interstage section falling away as the rocket left Earth. The was even a camera on board the command module that took pictures of the Earth.

The Chronicler

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50th Anniversary of the Apollo Program
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2018, 09:45:35 PM »
Today, January 22, is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 5 mission. It was an unmanned mission to test the Lunar Module (identified for this mission only as LM-1) in low Earth orbit, such as the engines on both the descent stage and the ascent stage, most crucial among these was the so-called "fire in the hole" test where, in the event of an aborted landing, the ascent stage engine would ignite right at the exact same moment as the two stages separate. All tests done in orbit were successful, and both stages of the Lunar Module reentered Earth's atmosphere less than a month after launch (since this mission consisted of testing just the Lunar Module, which was incapable of surviving reentry, it's the only Apollo mission in which none of its components were recoverable). Its launch was originally scheduled for April 1967, but numerous delays occurred (among them was LM-5, the very same Lunar Module that would later be used for Apollo 11, failing a pressure test when one of its windows blew out before the interior was fully pressurized). To avoid further delays, by the time it was finally launched by a Saturn IB rocket (smaller than the Saturn V, because this mission didn't need to go beyond low Earth orbit), the ascent stage had it windows covered by aluminum plates and the descent stage didn't have its landing legs.

The Chronicler

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50th Anniversary of the Apollo Program
« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2018, 07:00:25 PM »
Today, April 4, is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 6 mission. It was an unmanned mission (the last such mission of the program) that lasted about ten hours and was intended to test a "direct-return" abort where the spacecraft on a trajectory towards the Moon would turn around and return directly back to Earth, with all modules (Command-Service and Lunar) included at 80% of what their total weight would be for later missions. Like Apollo 4, this mission was launched atop a Saturn V rocket, but unlike that earlier mission, this one had a few issues during launch. Basically, some unexpected vibrations caused some of the engines to automatically shut off, preventing the spacecraft from reaching the intended trajectory for the mission, so the flight path was redirected to essentially be a repeat of Apollo 4, with successful reentry and splashdown. The cause of the launch problems were soon identified and fixed for all following missions (though it didn't completely eliminate the problem, since Apollo 13 would later have a less serious repeat of that issue during its launch). Since a launch that problematic for a manned mission would have been enough to cause an abort, this mission was later considered an invaluable shakedown of the Saturn V rocket design for the rest of the Apollo Program.

The Chronicler

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Re: 50th Anniversary of the Apollo Program
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2018, 09:30:41 PM »
From October 11 to October 22 (last Thursday to next Monday) is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 7 mission, the very first manned mission of the Apollo program. The astronauts who flew on this mission were Walter M. Schirra (his last mission in space, previously flew on the fifth Mercury mission (Sigma 7) and on Gemini 6, the only astronaut to have flown in all three of the early space programs), Donn F. Eisele (his only mission in space), and R. Walter Cunningham (also his only mission in space).

Apollo 7's mission was what would've been Apollo 1's mission, and that was to test the Command/Service Module (CSM) in low Earth orbit for the expected duration of later flights to the Moon. It was launched on a Saturn IB rocket, and splashed down on the Atlantic Ocean. Not only was it the first flight of an American spacecraft with a crew of three, it was also the first American spaceflight to include a live TV broadcast. Although there was frequently some tension between the crew and ground control, the technical aspects of this mission were almost completely successful, which allowed the next Apollo mission to be cleared for a flight all the way to the Moon.

The Chronicler

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Re: 50th Anniversary of the Apollo Program
« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2018, 11:00:06 PM »
From December 21 to December 27 (this Friday to next Thursday) is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission, the very first manned flight to reach and orbit the Moon and safely return to Earth. The astronauts who flew on this mission were Frank Borman (his last mission in space, previously flew on Gemini 7), Jim Lovell (previously flew on Gemini 7 and Gemini 12, and would later fly on Apollo 13), and William Anders (his only mission in space). Michael Collins (who would later fly on Apollo 11) was originally scheduled for this mission, but had to drop out due to surgery, so Jim Lovell took his place. In addition, the other two astronauts who would later fly on Apollo 11 (Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin) were part of the backup crew for this mission (along with Fred Haise, who would later fly on Apollo 13).

The original plan of the Apollo Program was to have the Command-Service Module (CSM)-only flight (Apollo 7) be followed by a test of the CSM with the Lunar Module (LM) in low earth orbit, followed by a similar mission on a higher orbit, then another similar mission in lunar orbit, followed at last by a lunar landing. However, there were delays in getting the LM ready for space flight, so to keep the other missions on schedule, it was decided to have Apollo 8 be a CSM-only flight that would orbit the moon, which would help make it possible to skip the higher earth orbit mission and keep the first lunar landing mission on schedule.

This was only the second launch with the Saturn V rocket, which had a few issues during its previous flight on Apollo 6, but they were corrected and the flight towards the Moon went smoothly. In order to successfully enter lunar orbit, the engine had to burn for a precise amount of time while they were behind the Moon, cut off from radio contact with mission control, and it worked perfectly. A similar action was later done (on Christmas Day) to push the spacecraft out of lunar orbit and back to Earth. After an uneventful trip back, the Command Module splashed down in the Pacific southwest of Hawaii.

This was the first time that humans got to personally see portions of the farside of the Moon. It was on this mission that the famous "Earthrise" photo was taken (photographed by Anders, with a color video filmed by Lovell), showing the Earth rising over the surface of the Moon during one of their lunar orbits, a photograph that would later come to symbolize environmentalist movements. Another famous moment on this mission was during one of the last lunar orbits on Christmas Eve, when the three crewmen read from the Bible's book of Genesis during a live broadcast. Prior to the lunar landing of Apollo 11, the flight of Apollo 8 was by far the most widely watch manned space mission (supposedly, about a quarter of the world's population had watched the Christmas Eve broadcast).

The Chronicler

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Re: 50th Anniversary of the Apollo Program
« Reply #13 on: March 11, 2019, 08:00:25 PM »
From March 3 to March 13 (last Sunday to this Wednesday) is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 9 mission, which was the first crewed mission to fly both the command-service module (CSM) and the lunar module (LM). The astronauts who flew on this mission were commander James McDivitt (his last mission in space, previously flew on Gemini 4 (with Ed White, who did America's first spacewalk)), CM pilot David Scott (previously flew on Gemini 8 (along with Neil Armstrong), and would later fly on Apollo 15), and LM pilot Rusty Schweickart (his only mission in space). The backup crew for this mission (Pete Conrad, Richard Gordon, and Alan Bean) would later fly on Apollo 12. This was also the first mission in which the modules were named (necessary as callsigns when they would fly seperately), with the CM Gumdrop and the LM spider (both named so because of their shape).

As mentioned previously, there had been delays getting the LM ready for spaceflight, so when the schedule was altered as a result, the crews of Apollo 8 and 9 agreed to switch so both of them could fly the missions they preferred (and as a result, their backup crews were also switched, who would later fly Apollo 11 and 12, which means that Pete Conrad could've been the first man on the Moon if not for this swap).

Despite being launched on a Saturn V rocket, this mission stayed in low Earth orbit (like Apollo 7) for a similar duration as later flights to the Moon would make. Therefore, it was only on the mission's fifth day (March 7) that they tested all the docking and separation flight maneuvers that the different modules would need to complete around the Moon on later flights. The crew even did a spacewalk to test the suits that would later be used for walking on the Moon. At the end of the mission, the CM splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean (the last spacecraft to do so until SpaceX's crewed Dragon capsule test just a few days ago), while the ascent and decent stages of the LM eventually were destroyed when they reentered Earth's atmosphere.

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Re: 50th Anniversary of the Apollo Program
« Reply #14 on: March 12, 2019, 02:00:33 AM »
I just want to say Chronicler that this is absolutely fascinating stuff. As someone who had never read up on this, it is great to indulge myself with this bit of history in such detail. Thanks for your dedicated posts!

The Chronicler

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Re: 50th Anniversary of the Apollo Program
« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2019, 10:50:24 PM »
From May 18 to May 26 (last Saturday to next Sunday) is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 10 mission, which was essentially a rehearsal of the Moon landing that tested everything expect for actually landing on the Moon's surface. The astronauts who flew on this mission were commander Thomas Stafford (previously flew on Gemini 6 and Gemini 9, and would later fly on the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975), CM pilot John Young (previously flew on Gemini 3 (with Gus Grissom, who later died in the Apollo 1 fire) and Gemini 10 (with Michael Collins, who later flew on Apollo 11), and would later fly on Apollo 16 and two missions on the space shuttle Columbia (STS-1 in April 1981, and STS-9 in November 1983)), and LM pilot Gene Cernan (previously flew on Gemini 9 (with Stafford), and would later fly on Apollo 17). The names of the modules for this mission were Charlie Brown for the Command Module and Snoopy for the Lunar Module, obviously named after the famous characters from the Peanuts comic strips (supposedly intended to get kids more interested in space flight).

The docked spacecraft reached the Moon on May 21, and over the next two days (May 22 and 23), they tested every maneuver that would be done for the Moon landing. In order to discourage the astronauts from trying to actually land on the surface, the LM was deliberately made short of fuel, meaning that they would've not had enough to take off if they had tried to land. They flew over what would be the landing site for Apollo 11, getting as close as 8.4 miles (15.6 km) above the surface before separating the decent stage, which later crashed to the surface in an unknown location. During separation, a faulty command sent the ascent stage tumbling, but the astronauts were able to regain control and flew back to the CSM. After the crew returned to the CSM, the LM ascent stage was separated and then burned the rest of its fuel on a trajectory out into a solar orbit, and to this day remains the only formerly crewed spacecraft still in space (later Apollo ascent stages were sent crashing to the lunar surface for seismic readings). The CSM left lunar orbit on May 24, and its return to Earth remains to this day the fastest return velocity of any crewed spacecraft at 11.08 km/s (39,897 km/h or 24,791 mph).
« Last Edit: May 23, 2019, 10:52:44 PM by The Chronicler »