Apollo 10 – The Moon Landing ‘Dress Rehearsal’
Landing Trial Run
The Apollo 10 mission was the first ‘all up’ flight of the equipment required for a lunar landing to be flown around the Moon. The Lunar Module (LM) was piloted to within 15.6 kilometres of the surface, to simulate a landing mission, before returning to orbit to dock with the Command Module (CM). The stage was set for the ‘Greatest Adventure in History’; the Apollo 11 moon landing!
Fast Summary Facts About Apollo 10!
- Mission Crew: Thomas Stafford, Eugene Cernan, John Young
- Mission Objective: Full Dress Rehearsal of Moon Landing
- Launch Date: 18th May, 1969
- Return Date: 26th May, 1969
- Mission Duration: 8 days, 23 Minutes, 23 Seconds
- Distance Travelled: 1,334,850.3 kms (829,437.5 miles)
Interesting Facts About The Apollo 10 Mission!
- Apollo 10’s mission objective was to complete a ‘dress rehearsal’ for the landing mission which was planned for Apollo 11. The LM would follow the approach orbit to within 15.6 km (51,180 ft) of the lunar surface, from which powered descent would begin for a landing. The lowest measured point was actually 14.4 km (47,400 ft). This flight plan would test the equipment, systems and put NASA ground control through their paces.
- The crew named their modules after characters from the Peanuts cartoon - Charlie Brown for the CM and Snoopy for the LM! NASA asked future missions to use more serious names!
- The mission also included the first live colour TV transmissions from space.
- Once Cernan and Stafford returned to the CM, the ascent stage of the Snoopy LM was jettisoned. Using its remaining fuel, it was fired on a trajectory to orbit the Sun! This is the only Apollo LM ascent stage to have done this; all others crashed into the Moon or burnt up in Earth's atmosphere! One day we might find it and bring it back for a museum!
- While on the far side of the Moon, during the 31st orbit, the Command and Service Module (CSM) rocket engine fired, putting the crew of Apollo 10 onto a trans-Earth trajectory which would take them home.
- As the crew of Apollo 10 returned to Earth, they achieved the highest speed recorded by a manned vehicle of 39,900 km/h (24,790 mph). Wow, that’s over 11 kilometres a second! That’s crazy fast!
- Crew members Eugene Cernan and John Young would visit the Moon again during Apollo 16 & Apollo 17, where they both walked on the Moon. These two, along with Jim Lovell from Apollo 8 & Apollo 13 were the only three astronauts to visit the Moon twice!
You can visit ‘Charlie Brown’ the actual Command Module from the Apollo 10 mission, as it is on display at the Science Museum in London!