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Mon, May 18, 2009

Apollo 10: 40 Years Ago Today

Four Decades Ago, We Were On The Verge Of Walking On The Moon... Apollo X Made That Possible

NASA is celebrating another key milestone on their path to the historic moon landing 40 years ago. 

On May 18, 1969, Apollo 10 was launched on a mission to orbit the moon. The flight was a test run, a crucial dress rehearsal leading up to the historic Apollo 11 mission that two months later carried the first people to walk on the moon.

Apollo 10 was the fourth manned mission in the Apollo program and the second to reach lunar orbit. NASA described its mission objectives as "Demonstrate performance of LM and CSM in lunar gravitation field. Evaluate CSM and LM docked and undocked lunar navigation."

All mission objectives were achieved.

During the mission, John Young piloted the command module, while Stafford and Cernan descended to within 8.4 nautical miles of the moon's surface. Cernan, the second American to walk in space, later would become the last person to walk on moon during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. Apollo 10's journey to the moon and back to Earth took 192 hours, 3 minutes and 23 seconds.

Among the many accomplishments of note were the fact that this was THE dress rehearsal for Moon landing, as well as the first manned CSM/LM operations in cislunar and lunar environment; and a simulation of first lunar landing profile. Apollo 10 was in lunar orbit 61.6 hours, with 31 orbits. The LM taken to within 50,000 ft of lunar surface, and produced the first live color TV from space. When all was done, though, the LM ascent stage was jettisoned in orbit. 

FMI: www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/apollo/40th

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