Apollo 10

Apollo 10 was a space mission as part of the Apollo program. Their goal was a test flight of the Lunar Module under real conditions in the lunar orbit, were rehearsed in the descent, ascent and rendezvous and docking.


On November 13, 1968, shortly after NASA announced that the flight of Apollo 8 should lead to the moon, was also the crew of Apollo 10, the final rehearsal of the moon landing, announced. The backup crew of Apollo 7 for this flight As expected, nominated as the main team: Tom Stafford as Commander John Young as a pilot of the Apollo spacecraft and Eugene Cernan as a pilot of the lunar module. Stafford and Young already had two, Cernan a space flight in the Gemini program behind. Cernan had flown already at Gemini 9 with Stafford as a commander. Apollo 10 was the first American space flight in which not a single space newcomer was on board.

Commander of the backup crew was Gordon Cooper. He was at that time the last remaining Mercury astronaut Wally Schirra had left since the Apollo program after Apollo 7 and Alan Shepard and Deke Slayton were still classified as flightless. The other two spare astronauts were Donn Eisele, who had just brought with Apollo 7 his first space flight behind him, as a pilot of the Apollo Command Module and Edgar Mitchell, a space rookie from the fifth selection group, as a pilot of the lunar module. When the normal rotation method had been applied, Cooper, Eisele and Mitchell had formed the crew of Apollo 13.

The support team ( support crew ) consisted of James Irwin, Charles Duke, Joe Engle and Jack Lousma.


The individual parts of the Saturn rocket were delivered in November and December 1968. On 11 March 1969 nor during the flight of Apollo 9 Saturn V could be rolled to the new launch pad 39B. The rocket carried the serial number AS- 505 command module CSM -106 ( the capsule CSM -105 was reserved for testing and should not fly into space ) and the Lunar Module LM- fourth

Traditionally, the callsign of the two spacecraft were selected by the team. The Apollo spacecraft was called Charlie Brown, the lunar module Snoopy. Both names come from the Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz. After the Apollo 9 crew Gumdrop had chosen ( Fruit gums ) and spider (spider) as a call sign, urged NASA managers the crew of Apollo 11 to seek out reputable call sign for the first moon landing.

When connecting speakers ( CapCom ) during the flight Charles Duke, Joe Engle, Jack Lousma and Bruce McCandless served.

History of the flight


The Saturn V was launched on May 18, 1969 16:49 UTC from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. As with Apollo 8 orbit was controlled first. After two orbits, the third stage of the Saturn rocket was fired a second time to bring the Apollo spacecraft on the way to the moon.

In lunar orbit

After reaching lunar orbit all the maneuvers were carried out as they were planned for the real landing of Apollo 11. In about 110 km above the lunar surface, the spacecraft ( CSM Command / Service Module ) of the Lunar Module (LEM Lunar Excursion Module ) was separated. It began the descent of the LEM, which came near the surface to about 14 km. This was the lowest height, in which a direct rise was still possible. At 15 km altitude the descent stage should be blasted to initiate the resurgence. This was achieved only after repeated tripping. Right after that failed the computer control of the attitude control system, and the module began to spin. A necessary shift was not listed in the checklist and was therefore not performed. So was provided by two separate programs conflicting commands to the thrusters. Stafford had to shut the computer control and restore the correct position on the manual control. Also the command to fire the main engine in the ascent module failed at first attempt. In contrast, reach the rendezvous with the CSM and the docking properly. After the transfer of the astronauts climb the engine was ignited again and brought the ascent stage into a solar orbit, in which it is located to this day, while the descent stage initially remained in lunar orbit and later crashed at an unknown location.


When entering on May 26, the landing capsule reached a speed of 39,897 km / h This is still the highest speed ever achieved by humans. At 16:52 UT Apollo 10 splashed down safely in the Pacific and was salvaged from the aircraft carrier USS Princeton. 19 TV shows for the first time in color, were transferred during the mission to Earth.

The Apollo landing capsule is now on display at the Science Museum in London. It is, apart from minor equipment and located in Canada CSM on Apollo 7, the only Apollo flight hardware outside the United States.

Importance for the Apollo program

The successful flight of Apollo 10 showed that NASA was able to complete Apollo flights in quick succession. Since Apollo 7 only seven months had passed. Apollo 10 was the fourth flight and two others were for the next few months in preparation.

In addition, Apollo 10 had all the necessary maneuvers for a moon landing, until the landing itself performed. The problems encountered were found to be detachable so that the first manned lunar landing on Apollo 11 was planned.