The Apollo Program When Neil Armstrong first stepped on the Moon, he uttered these words: “ That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind” (qtd. in Petty). Throughout history, mankind had accomplished many great things. However, one of the most outstanding achievements of man was the first walk on the Moon.
In the beginning, man’s capacity to walk in space was merely a possibility. In time, it was revealed that it was capable of being a reality. Such historic feat would not have been possible without the Apollo Program of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
This fact makes the Apollo Program truly significant. Not only did the program enable man to walk on the Moon, it also allowed mankind to learn more about it. The Apollo Program is crucial because it revolutionized space exploration with the lunar landing and scientific investigations on the Moon. The Apollo Program is truly one of the most distinct achievements of man in terms of science and technology. It is not only a defining moment in American history, but also in world history in general (“ Apollo”). It began as a follow-up project to the Mercury missions of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA] 12). The Mercury Project was aimed at developing procedures that would allow man to orbit and dock in space, as well as to participate in extravehicular activity or EVA (Lewis 80). The Apollo Program had been in progress since July 1960; however, a presidential declaration had prompted NASA to redirect their efforts to another project.
On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced a new goal for the United States to achieve: to land a man on the surface of the Moon and bring him safely back to Earth before the decade ends (Lewis 80; NASA 12). The United States succeeded in achieving its goal; Armstrong and Edwin “ Buzz” Aldrin landed on the Moon on July 20, 1969 and returned safely home (NASA 12).
Six missions of the Apollo Program were successful in bringing men on the Moon and back to Earth; these were Apollos 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17 (Petty). Apollo 13 was sent to the Moon but failed to land due to a malfunction. However, while on orbit, the crew was able to take photographs of the Moon. Prior to these, there were two manned missions of Apollo equipment sent in the orbit of the Earth and two other lunar orbit missions (NASA 12). The Apollo Program was said to have spent $19, 408, 134, 000 when the last lunar landing was done (Petty). This amount was 34% of the total budget for NASA. However, Apollo Program did not end with the Moon landings. After the lunar landing aspect of the Apollo Program was finished, there were four other flights that were accomplished (Lewis 81).
Three of these flights occurred between 1973 and 1974; they were missions that brought astronauts to and from the space station called Skylab. The fourth flight happened in 1975, when collaboration between the United States and the Soviet Union resulted in the Apollo-Soyuz Project (Lewis 81). The Apollo Program consisted of three elements (Lewis 80).
The first element was the three-man spacecraft. The second element was the two-man Lunar Module (LM), also known as the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM). The LM is considered as the first real spacecraft, as it was created to operate only in a vacuum despite the lack of aerodynamic features (NASA 12). When it is launched in space, the lunar module is linked to the Apollo Command and Service Module (CSM) (Lewis 81; NASA 12). However, when it is in lunar orbit, it becomes detached and lands on the Moon containing the two astronauts (NASA 12).
After the mission on the surface, the lunar module ascends with its rocket to be connected again to the CSM (NASA 12). The third element in the Apollo Program was the Saturn rockets, such as Saturn 1, Saturn 1 B and Saturn V (Lewis 80). These three elements composed the transportation system which was used by the Apollo Program.
This system allowed astronauts to land on the Moon to gather samples and conduct experiments on the surface from July 1969 to December 1972 (Lewis 80; Petty). Experiments that were conducted on the Moon studied magnetic fields, meteoroids, seismic activity, and solar winds (Petty). The Apollo spacecraft was remarkably different and advanced. It was created using the technology that was utilized for the Mercury and Gemini missions (Lewis 81). The spacecraft was essentially made up of the aforementioned CSM. Its length was 10.
4 meters while its diameter was 3 meters. It was different from the previous spacecrafts because it possessed the “ inertial guidance system” which was made by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (Lewis 81). The CSM consisted of two components. The first component is the Command Module or CM. The CM carried the crew; it has three couches and was “ pressurized with oxygen” (Lewis 81). The Apollo CM was shaped like a teardrop, making it different from those of the Mercury and Gemini missions which were shaped like a cone (NASA 12). The other component is the Service Module or SM (Lewis 81). It is found behind the CM and contained the engine of the spacecraft.
It also housed the reaction and environment control systems, the oxygen and hydrogen tanks, as well as the fuel cell batteries (Lewis 81). The Apollo Program had three unmanned missions, namely Apollos 4, 5 and 6 (“ Apollo”). The Apollo 4 mission was also known as the Saturn/Apollo 4 or AS-501.
It was launched on November 9, 1967 (Petty). This mission, which lasted for only eight hours, served as a test for the three stage Saturn V rocket. The Saturn/Apollo 5 or AS-204 was another unmanned mission, which was launched on January 22, 1968 (“ Apollo”). It served as the first test flight for the LM.
The mission lasted for 11 hours. Lastly, the Saturn/Apollo 6 or AS-502 was launched on April 4, 1968. This mission was created to test the Saturn V as a launch vehicle and the Apollo spacecraft for the manned missions (Petty).
This mission lasted for 10 hours (Petty). The manned missions of the Apollo Program started on May 28, 1964 (Lewis 81). Testings were conducted before the actual missions occurred. The initial flight test was tragic, as the Apollo 1 crew perished in the fire during a test at Cape Canaveral on January 27, 1967 (“ Apollo”; Lewis 81; NASA 12).
According to Lewis, the fire began in the Command Module, resulting in the asphyxiation of the crew (81). The Apollo 1 crew consisted of Edward White, Roger Chaffee and Virgil Grissom (“ Apollo”). The first manned flight of the Apollo Program involved the Apollo 7 and was launched on October 11, 1968 (“ Apollo”).
The crew consisted of Walter Schirra, Jr., Donn Eisele and Walter Cunningham. The main goal of this mission was to show the performance and the capacities of the CSM, its crew, the launch vehicle and the mission support. In addition, the mission had planned both medical and photographic experiments. It is important to note that there was no lunar module unit included in this flight. The mission was completed in 11 days with minimal problems.
It proved that the spacecraft was capable of fulfilling a lunar mission (Lewis 81). However, the crew struggled due to head colds (“ Apollo”). Though they had taken medication, the head colds had continually bothered the crew. The illness was caused by the cold temperature and the absence of gravity (“ Apollo”). The second manned Apollo flight was the Apollo 8; it was launched on December 21, 1968 (“ Apollo”).
The crew consisted of Frank Borman, James A. Lovell and William Anders. Just like it predecessor, Apollo 8 did not have an LM, but it did possess an LM test article. This was the first spacecraft to orbit the Moon with much success. The crew was able to collect lunar photographs that proved essential to the other Apollo lunar landing missions.
Also, they succeeded in broadcasting sessions from space; the astronauts read the Book of Genesis on Christmas Eve to a worldwide audience. The mission lasted for only eight days (“ Apollo”). The Apollo 9 mission was the very first manned flight that utilized the lunar module (Petty). The spacecraft was launched on March 3, 1969. The crew of the Apollo 9 consisted of James McDivitt, David Scott and Russell Schweickhart. The main goal of this mission was to discover if the LM would properly function for lunar missions.
It was in this flight where the LM was successfully detached, reconnected and docked with the CSM. The mission lasted for ten days (Lewis 81). The Apollo 10 mission was the first flight to involve an Apollo spacecraft complete with the CSM and an LM (“ Apollo”). The CSM was named “ Charlie Brown” while the LM was named “ Snoopy.” The spacecraft was launched on May 18, 1969 and the crew was composed of Thomas P. Stafford, John W. Young and Eugene A. Cernan.
The main objective of this mission was to assess how the LM would function in the lunar environment. The mission proved to be vital for the success of the Apollo 11. This was because the Apollo 10 mission served as a “ dry run,” but without the lunar landing (“ Apollo”). The duration of the mission lasted for 8 days (Petty). The declaration of President Kennedy became a reality with the Apollo 11 mission. The Apollo 11 was launched on July 16, 1969 (“ Apollo”; Petty).
On July 20th, Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the lunar site “ Mare Tranquillitatis” or the “ Sea of Tranquility” aboard the LM. Meanwhile, Michael Collins was aboard the CSM, which was in lunar orbit (“ Apollo”). There was camera attached in the LM which allowed coverage of the man’s first step in the Moon (Petty). While on the lunar surface, Armstrong and Aldrin put up an American flag and prepared some scientific apparatus for testing (Lewis 81). They also took photographs, as well as rock, soil and solar wind particle samples.
The crew stayed on the lunar surface for 2 ½ hours (Petty). The crew returned to Earth on July 24th (“ Apollo”). With the first lunar landing of man successfully accomplished, the Apollo Program redirected its efforts to scientific exploration in its succeeding missions. Scientific exploration began with the Apollo 12, which was launched on November 19, 1969 (“ Apollo”).
The crew was composed of Charles Conrad, Jr., Richard F. Gordon and Alan L. Bean. The Apollo 12 LM named “ Intrepid” landed at the “ Oceanus Procellarum” or the “ Ocean of Storms”; the CSM was called “ Yankee Clipper” (Lewis 82).
The crew set up the first Apollo Lunar Scientific Package (ALSEP), which was composed of several scientific instruments (Lewis 82). The mission lasted for 10 days (Petty). The Apollo 13 mission was not as successful as the mission which preceded it. The Apollo 13 spacecraft was launched on April 11, 1970; its LM was named “ Aquarius” and its CSM was called “ Odyssey” (Lewis 83; Petty). The Apollo 13 mission was directed at making a lunar landing at “ Fra Mauro” (Petty). Unfortunately, an oxygen tank in the SM exploded; the crew was forced to abort the plan to land on the Moon. The crew, which consisted of James Lovell, Jr.
, John Swiger, Jr. and Fred Haise, Jr., was able to return to Earth safely.
The mission only lasted for six days (Petty). It was the Apollo 14 mission which successfully reached the “ Fra Mauro” (“ Apollo”; Lewis 83; Petty). It was launched on January 31, 1971, and the entire mission lasted for 9 days (Petty). The members of the crew were Alan Shepard, Jr.
, Edgar Dean Mitchell and Stuart A. Roosa (Lewis 83). The name of the LM was “ Antares” while the name of the CSM was “ Kitty Hawk” (Lewis 83).
The landing site for this mission was very important as it shows similarities with the Fra Mauro Formation (Petty). This formation is a geological feature that characterizes the nearside of the Moon. Just like the crew of the Apollo 12, the Apollo 14 crew utilized ALSEP instruments (Lewis 83). The Apollo 15 mission was the first manned flight to bring the first manned vehicle on the Moon (Lewis 83). It was launched on July 26, 1971 and the mission lasted for 12 days (Petty). The members of the crew were David R. Scott, Alfred M. Worden and James B.
Irwin (“ Apollo”). The CSM was called “ Endeavor” and the LM was named “ Falcon” (Lewis 84). The LM “ Falcon” landed on the Hadley-Apennine region of the Moon (Petty). The goal of the mission was to conduct a longer and more thorough scientific exploration of the Moon with better instruments than the past missions. Indeed, it was the first mission with a vehicle created to roam the lunar surface.
This was the Lunar Rover, a $40, 000, 000 vehicle that could travel a speed of 16 kph on the lunar surface (Lewis 83; Petty). Another accomplishment of this mission was the use of a sub satellite which had the capacity to measure the gamma and x-rays from the lunar surface while it was on orbit (Lewis 84). The last two Apollo missions were successful in reaching the higher areas of the Moon. The Apollo 16 mission was launched on April 16, 1972 (Petty).
The members of the crew were John W. Young, Thomas K. Mattingly II and Charles M. Duke, Jr. (“ Apollo”). The duration of the mission was 11 days.
The LM was called “ Casper” while the CSM was identified as “ Orion” (Lewis 84). LM “ Casper” landed on the highland named the “ Plain of Descartes” (Petty). Just like the previous missions, there were experiments conducted. Nonetheless, this mission stood out because its crew was able to visit two lunar landmarks. These landmarks were the Stone Mountain and the North Ray crater. In the latter landmark, the crew took samples from the rim; eventually, it was discovered that an impact from the meteorite had caused the crater to exist (Petty). The last lunar landing mission was the Apollo 17 (Lewis 84).
The Apollo 17 spacecraft took flight on December 11, 1972; the entire mission lasted for 12 days. The members of the crew were Eugene A. Cernan, Ronald E. Evans and Harrison H. Schmitt (“ Apollo”). The LM was known as “ Challenger” and the CSM was called “ America” (Lewis 84). LM “ Challenger” landed at the lunar site called Taurus-Littrow valley (NASA 12; Petty).
The main goal of this mission was to take samples of highland material as well as mare material. These samples would allow the crew to establish as geological link between the two units. This goal is the reason why Harrison Smith became the first geologist to walk on the Moon (Lewis 84; Petty). It was also in this mission where the first fender bender of the Lunar Rover occurred (Petty). When the Apollo 17 mission ended, the Apollo program had achieved more than its initial successes. The last three Apollo missions were more extensive in terms of lunar exploration compared to the first three missions (NASA 12).
This is because the astronauts from the last three missions had the advantage of the Lunar Rover which made lunar exploration easier and more convenient. In addition, more information and samples were gathered because the crew from the latter missions stayed longer on the lunar surface. Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the lunar surface for only 2 ½ hours. The crew of the Apollo 16 walked on the surface of the Moon for a total of 20 hours and 17 minutes (Petty).
Meanwhile, the crew of Apollo 17 stayed on the lunar surface for 22 hours and 2 minutes. There were supposed to be other missions, such as Apollos 18, 19 and 20 (NASA 12). However, due to financial constraints, they were aborted. Hence, Apollo 17 was the last mission to close the first age of human lunar exploration. The first walk on the moon by man was historical. The ability of man to explore the Moon and gain more information about it also made history.
However, these would not have been possible if the Apollo Program had been absent. The program was instrumental in making history just because it heeded the challenged posed by President John F. Kennedy. The program was responsible for creating technologies that first made unmanned missions which eventually became crewed explorations. The Apollo Program had truly opened the doors in terms of the accomplishments which can be achieved by mankind in astronomy.
Hence, the contributions of the Apollo Program in astronomy as well as world history remain relevant in this day and age, years after the age of the space exploration ended. Works Cited“ Apollo Program (1963-1978).” Case Western Reserve University Web Site. 13 Sept. 2006. 23 Nov.
2008 < http://burro. astr. cwru. edu/stu/advanced/20th_close_apollo. html>. Lewis, Richard S. “ Apollo program.
” Lexicon Universal Encyclopedia. 21 vols. New York: Lexicon Publications, Inc.
, 1992. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Space Flight: The First 30 Years.
Pennsylvania: DIANE Publishing, 1993. Petty, John Ira. “ The Apollo Program.” National Aeronautics and Space Administration Web Site. 16 July 2008. 23 Nov. 2008