Mon, May 18, 2009
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
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
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