primary objective of Apollo 9 was to test the
lunar module in Earth orbit. This would be the
first manned mission on which a lunar module was
The Apollo 9 crew consisted of Commander James
A. McDivitt, Command Module Pilot David R. Scott
and Lunar Module Pilot Russell L. Schweickart.
Command Module was named Gumdrop and the Lunar
Module was named Spider. The names were
derived from the general shapes of the two
This was the first manned US mission to have its
spacecraft named since Gus Grissom had used
Molly Brown for the name of Gemini III.
Apollo 9 was launched with a Saturn V on March
3, 1969. The crew separated
the command service module from the third stage
of the Saturn V at 2 hours and 41 minutes after
launch. The third stage of a Saturn
V was called an S-IVB.
The lunar module was housed in the S-IVB in the
conical section below the command service
module. After the command service module
separated from the S-IVB, the four panels
forming the conical section of the rocket were
jettisoned to expose the lunar module.
The crew then did a maneuver called
transposition and docking. During this
maneuver the command service module turned
around and docked with the top hatch of the
lunar module. Docking was completed at 3 hours
While in the docked configuration the service
propulsion system engine on the service module
was fired several times to alter the orbit of
Apollo 9. The descent engine on the lunar
module was fired for 367 seconds. All of
these engine firings were done to simulate
maneuvers that would be used later on in the
Apollo program at the Moon.
performed a 37.5-minute EVA from the porch of
the lunar module. This EVA tested out the
portable life support system and the same type
of spacesuit that would later be used on the
lunar surface. During his EVA astronaut
Schweickart exclaimed, "Boy, oh boy ... What a view!"
EVA was done with some concern. He had
been afflicted with motion sickness that often
affects astronauts when they are first adapting
to weightlessness. If Schweickart had vomited in
the confines of his spacesuit helmet, he could
easily have choked on his own vomit.
Fortunately he recovered sufficiently and the
EVA did not have to be canceled.
At the same time that Schweickart was doing his
EVA, astronaut Scott in the command module
opened up the side hatch of the command module
and did a stand up EVA from there. The objective
of Scott's EVA was photography.
On March 7, 1969, astronauts McDivitt and
Schweickart in the lunar module separated from
the command module. Astronaut Scott
remained on board the command module. The
descent engine of lunar module Spider was fired
to put it in a slightly higher orbit than that
command service module.
maneuvering, the descent stage was jettisoned
from the lunar module and the ascent engine of
the ascent stage that housed the crew was
fired. This simulated a liftoff from the
lunar surface. Spider was docked with
Gumdrop and McDivitt and Schweickart transferred
back into the command module to rejoin Scott.
The Apollo 9 crew returned to earth on March 13,
1969. Splashdown was in the Atlantic Ocean and the aircraft carrier
U.S.S. Guadalcanal was the primary recovery
They had gone around the Earth 151 times during
their mission. The mission duration was 10
days, 1 hour, 0 minutes, and 54 seconds.