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Apollo 9

"Boy, oh boy ... What a view!" This photograph of Dave Scott during a stand up EVA from the Command Module Gumdrop.  The entire Apollo 9 crew autographed this photo for me.
Photo Credit: NASA
Crew Signed
                          Photo Of Dave Scott's Apollo 9 Standup EVAThe 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 flown.

The Apollo 9 crew consisted of Commander James A. McDivitt, Command Module Pilot David R. Scott and Lunar Module Pilot Russell L. Schweickart.

The Command Module was named Gumdrop and the Lunar Module was named Spider.  The names were derived from the general shapes of the two spacecraft. 

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 after launch.

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.

Astronaut Schweickart 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!"

Schweickart's 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.

After some 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 Atla
ntic Ocean and the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Guadalcanal was the primary recovery ship.

They had gone around the Earth 151 times during their mission.  The mission duration was 10 days, 1 hour, 0 minutes, and 54 seconds.


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UPDATED : March 29, 2008
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