Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Today in History | Apollo 10 Return Landing

As the fourth manned mission to space Apollo 10 was conducted as test of the lunar module while in lunar orbit. A test? A 355 million dollar test? Now, we all wanted to be astronauts when we were younger and having just watched Armageddon makes being an astronaut seem badass, but to risk your life for a test which only gets you a total of 9.67 miles away from the lunar surface to send a lunar module called Snoopy seems a little...dare I say ridiculous. Yet, if it was not for this test we would have never had the landing of Apollo 11. But the important aspect and the reason for talking about the Apollo 10 mission at all is that today in 1969 the Apollo 10 mission safely landed back on Earth after testing all the components needed for a safe manned moon landing for eight straight days.

Eugene Cernan, Thomas Stafford, and John Young: The Apollo 10 Astronauts.
Apollo 10 takeoff
Snoopy seen here in descent to the lunar surface
Having gone through a complete dry run of the lunar landing of Snoopy, both on Earth and in Space, the Apollo 10 crew executed the run perfectly. They were the first complete veteran crew and knew what they were doing. The only hitch was that the lunar module was not equipped to land, so when it came down to it no one could have landed whether they wanted to or not. And the amazing pictures come from the fact that the mission was broadcasting live in color from Space.
Landing spot in the Sea of Tranquility
Charles Shultz special cartoon for NASA