Three men, Three days. 380,000km each way.
All in a tin can this small.
The Apollo moon shots of the late 60s and early 70s were an amazing time – and an amazing technological feat.
But now they are gone, leaving little for nerds like me except memories. And the occasional museum exhibition, like the permanent Apollo 9 installation at the San Diego Air and Space Museum.
Apollo 9 didn’t make it to the moon – but it was never intended to.
Instead, it was a low earth orbit mission, designed to test the Lunar Module engines, Navigation and Life Support systems, docking and separation of the Lunar Module and Command Module, and other tests to prepare for the first actual moon landing 4 months later.
There were a number of firsts – the first use of an independent space-suit outside a spacecraft (ie no umbilical connection to the ship), the first independent flight of a spacecraft when the Lunar Module was separated from the Command Module, and more.
And yet missions like Apollo 9 are mere footnotes in history, overshadowed by the more famous Apollo 11, the first to actually land on the moon.
Mind you, it could be worse. Imagine being on board Apollo 10 – which came within just 16 km of the moon’s surface, before returning!