Apollo 9

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Apollo 9
Gumdrop Meets Spider - GPN-2000-001100.jpg
David Scott performs an EVA from Command Module Gumdrop, seen from docked Lunar Module Spider
Mission type Lunar Module test flight
Operator NASA[1]
COSPAR ID CSM: 1969-018A
LM: 1969-018C
SATCAT № CSM: 3769
LM: 3771
Mission duration 10 days, 1 hours, 54 seconds
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft Apollo CSM-104
Apollo LM-3
Manufacturer CSM: North American Rockwell
LM: Grumman
Launch mass 95,231 pounds (43,196 kg)
Landing mass 11,094 pounds (5,032 kg)
Crew size 3
Members James A. McDivitt
David R. Scott
Russell L. Schweickart
Callsign CSM: Gumdrop
LM: Spider
EVAs 1
EVA duration 77 minutes
Start of mission
Launch date March 3, 1969, 16:00:00 (1969-03-03UTC16Z) UTC
Rocket Saturn V SA-504
Launch site Kennedy LC-39A
End of mission
Recovered by USS Guadalcanal
Decay date October 23, 1981 (LM)
Landing date March 13, 1969, 17:00:54 (1969-03-13UTC17:00:55Z) UTC
Landing site North Atlantic Ocean
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Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Low Earth orbit
Perigee 204 kilometers (127 mi)
Apogee 497 kilometers (309 mi)
Inclination 33.8 degrees
Period 91.55 minutes
Epoch March 5, 1969[2]
Docking with LM
Docking date March 3, 1969, 19:01:59 UTC
Undocking date March 7, 1969, 12:39:06 UTC
Docking with LM Ascent Stage
Docking date March 7, 1969, 19:02:26 UTC
Undocking date March 7, 1969, 21:22:45 UTC
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Apollo9 Prime Crew.jpg
Left to right: McDivitt, Scott, Schweickart

Apollo program
← Apollo 8 Apollo 10

Apollo 9 was the third manned mission in the United States Apollo space program and the first flight of the Command/Service Module (CSM) with the Lunar Module (LM). Its three-person crew, consisting of Commander James McDivitt, Command Module Pilot David Scott, and Lunar Module Pilot Rusty Schweickart, spent ten days in low Earth orbit testing several aspects critical to landing on the Moon, including the LM engines, backpack life support systems, navigation systems, and docking maneuvers. The mission was the second manned launch of a Saturn V rocket.

After launching on March 3, 1969, the crewmen performed the first manned flight of a LM, the first docking and extraction of a LM, two spacewalks (EVA), and the second docking of two manned spacecraft—two months after the Soviets performed a spacewalk crew transfer between Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5. The mission proved the LM worthy of manned spaceflight. Further tests on the Apollo 10 mission would prepare the LM for its ultimate goal, landing on the Moon. They returned to Earth on March 13, 1969.


Position[3] Astronaut
Commander James A. McDivitt
Second spaceflight
Command Module Pilot David R. Scott
Second spaceflight
Lunar Module Pilot Russell L. Schweickart
Only spaceflight

Backup crew

Position Astronaut
Commander Charles Conrad, Jr,
Command Module Pilot Richard F. Gordon, Jr.
Lunar Module Pilot Alan L. Bean
The backup crew became the prime crew on Apollo 12.

Clifton Williams was the original backup Lunar Module Pilot on Conrad's crew, but was killed in October 1967 when the T-38 he was flying crashed near Tallahassee.

Support crew

Flight directors

Mission parameters

LM - CSM docking

  • Undocked: March 7, 1969 - 12:39:36 UTC
  • Re-docked:March 7, 1969 - 19:02:26 UTC


  • Schweickart - EVA - LM forward hatch
    • Start: March 6, 1969, 16:45:00 UTC
    • End: March 6, 1969, 17:52:00 UTC
    • Duration: 1 hour, 07 minutes
  • Scott - Standup EVA - CM side hatch
    • Start: March 6, 1969, 17:01:00 UTC
    • End: March 6, 1969, 18:02:00 UTC
    • Duration: 1 hour, 01 minute

Mission background

McDivitt, Scott and Schweickart train for the AS-258 mission in the first block II Command Module, wearing early versions of the block II pressure suit

In April 1966, McDivitt, Scott, and Schweickart were selected by Deke Slayton as the second Apollo crew, as backup to Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee for the first manned Earth orbital test flight of the block I Command/Service Module,[4] designated AS-204 expected to fly in late 1966. This was to be followed by a second block I flight, AS-205, to be crewed by Wally Schirra, Donn Eisele, and Walter Cunningham. The third manned mission, designated AS-207/208, was planned to fly the block II Command Module and the Lunar Module in Earth orbit, launched on separate Saturn IBs, with a crew to be named.

However, delays in the block I CSM development pushed AS-204 into 1967. By December 1966, the original AS-205 mission was cancelled, Schirra's crew was named as Grissom's backup, and McDivitt's crew was promoted to prime crew for the LM test mission,[5] re-designated AS-205/208. On January 26, 1967, they were training for this flight, expected to occur in late 1967, in the first block II Command Module 101 at the North American plant in Downey, California.[6] The next day, Grissom's crew were conducting a launch-pad test for their planned February 21 mission, which they named Apollo 1, when a fire broke out in the cabin, killing all three men and putting an 18-month hold on the manned program while the block II Command Module (CM) and A7L pressure suit were redesigned for safety.

As it turned out, a 1967 launch of AS-205/208 would have been impossible even absent the Apollo 1 accident, as problems with the LM delayed its first unmanned test flight until January 1968. NASA was able to use the 18-month hiatus to catch up with development and unmanned testing of the LM and the Saturn V launch vehicle.[7]

By October 1967, planning for manned flights resumed, with Apollo 7 being the first Earth orbit CSM flight (now known as the C mission) in October 1968 given to Schirra's crew, and McDivitt's mission (now known as the D Mission) following as Apollo 8 in December 1968, using a single Saturn V instead of the two Saturn IBs. This would be followed by a higher Earth orbit flight (E Mission), to be crewed by Frank Borman, Michael Collins, and William Anders in early 1969.

However, LM problems again prevented it from being ready for the D mission by December, so NASA officials created another mission for Apollo 8 using the Saturn V to launch only the CSM on the first manned flight to orbit the Moon, and the E mission was cancelled as unnecessary. Slayton asked McDivitt and Borman which mission they preferred to fly; McDivitt wanted to fly the LM, while Borman volunteered for the pioneering lunar flight. Therefore Slayton swapped the crews, and McDivitt's crew flew Apollo 9.

The crew swap also affected who would be the first crew to land on the Moon; when the crews for Apollo 8 and 9 were swapped, their backup crews were also swapped. Since the rule of thumb was for backup crews to fly as prime crew three missions later, this put Neil Armstrong's crew (Borman's backup) in position for the first landing mission Apollo 11 instead of Pete Conrad's crew, who made the second landing on Apollo 12.

Mission highlights

Apollo 9 launches from Kennedy Space Center, March 3, 1969

Apollo 9 was the first space test of the complete Apollo spacecraft, including the third critical piece of Apollo hardware besides the Command/Service Module and the Saturn V launch vehicle—the Lunar Module. It was also the first space docking of two vehicles with an internal crew transfer between them. For ten days, the astronauts put both Apollo spacecraft through their paces in Earth orbit, including an undocking and redocking of the lunar lander with the command vehicle, just as the landing mission crew would perform in lunar orbit. Apollo 9 gave proof that the Apollo spacecraft were up to this critical task, on which the lives of lunar landing crews would depend.

For this and all subsequent Apollo flights, the crews were allowed to name their own spacecraft (the last spacecraft to have been named was Gemini 3). The gangly LM was named Spider, and the CSM was labeled Gumdrop because of the Command Module's shape, and also the blue wrapping in which the craft arrived at Kennedy Space Center. These names were required as radio call signs when the vehicles flew independently.

Schweickart and Scott performed an EVA—Schweickart checked out the new Apollo spacesuit, the first to have its own life support system rather than being dependent on an umbilical connection to the spacecraft, while Scott filmed him from the Command Module hatch. Schweickart was due to carry out a more extensive set of activities to test the suit, and demonstrate that it was possible for astronauts to perform an EVA from the Lunar Module to the Command Module in an emergency, but as he had been suffering from space sickness the extra tests were scratched.

Apollo 9 approaches splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean, March 13, 1969

McDivitt and Schweickart later test-flew the LM, and practiced separation and docking maneuvers in Earth orbit. They flew the LM up to 111 miles (179 km) from Gumdrop, using the engine on the descent stage to propel them originally, before jettisoning it and using the ascent stage to return. This test flight represented the first flight of a manned spacecraft that was not equipped to reenter the Earth's atmosphere.

The splashdown point was 23 deg 15 min N, 67 deg 56 min W, 180 miles (290 km) east of the Bahamas and within sight of the recovery ship USS Guadalcanal. Apollo 9 was the last spacecraft to splash down in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Command Module was displayed at the Michigan Space and Science Center, Jackson, Michigan, until April 2004 when the center closed.[citation needed] In May 2004, it was moved to the San Diego Aerospace Museum (now named the San Diego Air & Space Museum). The LM ascent stage orbit decayed on October 23, 1981, the LM descent stage (1969-018D) orbit decayed March 22, 1969. The S-IVB stage J-2 engine was restarted after Lunar Module extraction and propelled the stage into solar orbit by burning to depletion.

The Saturn IVB third stage became a derelict object where it would continue to orbit the Sun for many years. As of November 2014, it remains in orbit.[8]

Mission insignia

Apollo 9 space-flown silver Robbins medallion

The circular patch shows a drawing of a Saturn V rocket with the letters USA on it. To its right, an Apollo CSM is shown next to an LM, with the CSM's nose pointed at the "front door" of the LM rather than at its top docking port. The CSM is trailing rocket fire in a circle. The crew's names are along the top edge of the circle, with APOLLO IX at the bottom. The "D" in McDivitt's name is filled with red to mark that this was the "D mission" in the alphabetic sequence of Apollo missions. The patch was designed by Allen Stevens of Rockwell International.[9]

Summary of maneuvers

T + Time Event Burn Time Delta-Velocity Orbit
T + 00:00:00 Lift-off
T + 00:02:14.34 S-IC center engine cut-off 141 s
T + 00:02:42.76 S-IC engine cut-off 169 s
T + 00:02:45.16 S-II ignition
T + 00:03:13.5 S-II skirt separation
T + 00:03:18.3 LES jettison
T + 00:08:56.22 S-II cut-off
T + 00:08:57 S-II cutoff + separation, S-IVB ignition
T + 00:11:04.66 S-IVB cutoff + orbital insertion 127.4 s 191.3 × 189.5 km
T + 02:41:16 CSM/S-IVB separation
T + 03:01:59.3 CSM/LM docking
T + 04:08:09 Spacecraft/S-IVB separation
T + 05:59:01.07 First Service Propulsion System (SPS) test 5.1 s +10.4 m/s 234.1 × 200.7 km
T + 22:13:04.07 Second SPS test 110 s +259.2 m/s 351.5 × 199.5 km
T + 25:17:39.27 Third SPS test 281.6 s +782.6 m/s 503.4 × 202.6 km
T + 28:24:41.37 Fourth SPS test 28.2 s -91.45 m/s 502.8 × 202.4 km
T + 49:41:34.46 Docked DPS test 369.7 s -530.1 m/s 499.3 × 202.2 km
T + 54:26:12.27 Fifth SPS test 43.3 s -175.6 m/s 239.3 × 229.3 km
T + 92:39:36 CSM/LM undocking
T + 93:02:54 CSM separation maneuver 10.9 s -1.5 m/s
T + 93:47:35.4 LM Descent Propulsion System (DPS) phasing maneuver 18.6 s +27.6 m/s 253.5 × 207 km
T + 95:39:08.6 LM DPS insertion maneuver 22.2 s +13.1 m/s 257.2 × 248.2 km
T + 96:16:06.54 LM concentric sequence initiation maneuver/Descent stage jettison 30.3 s -12.2 m/s 255.2 × 208.9 km
T + 96:58:15 LM Ascent Propulsion System (APS) constant delta height maneuver 2.9 s -12.6 m/s 215.6 × 207.2 km
T + 97:57:59 LM terminal phase finalization maneuver 34.7 s +6.8 m/s 232.8 × 208.5 km
T + 99:02:26 CSM/LM docking
T + 101:22:45 LM ascent stage jettison
T + 101:32:44 Post-jettison CSM separation maneuver 7.2 s +0.9 m/s 235.7 × 224.6 km
T + 101:53:15.4 LM APS burn to depletion 350 s +1,643.2 m/s 6,934.4 × 230.6 km
T + 123:25:06.97 Sixth SPS test 1.29 s -11.5 m/s 222.6 × 195.2 km
T + 169:39:00.36 Seventh SPS test 25 s +199.6 m/s 463.4 × 181.1 km
T + 240:31:14.84 Deorbit burn (SPS) 11.6 s -99.1 m/s 442.2 × -7.8 km
T + 240:36:03.8 SM jettison
T + 241:00:54 Splashdown


Spacecraft location

The Apollo 9 Command Module Gumdrop (1969-018A) is on display at the San Diego Air & Space Museum, San Diego, California. Its Service Module (SM) was jettisoned shortly after the deorbit burn and decayed during reentry of the Command Module.

The ascent stage of LM-3 Spider (1969-018C) decayed on October 23, 1981.[10]

The descent stage of LM-3 Spider (1969-018D) decayed March 22, 1969.[10]

The upper stage of the Apollo 9 Saturn V, S-IVB-504N, (1969-018B) remains in heliocentric (solar) orbit as of 2014.[8]

See also



 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

  1. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  2. McDowell, Jonathan. "SATCAT". Jonathan's Space Pages. Retrieved March 23, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Apollo 9 Crew". The Apollo Program. Washington, D.C.: National Air and Space Museum. Retrieved 10 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "'Open End' Orbit Planned for Apollo". The Pittsburgh Press. Pittsburgh, PA. United Press International. August 4, 1966. p. 20. Retrieved November 11, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  6. "Apollo Image Gallery: Early Apollo". Project Apollo Archive. Kipp Teague. Retrieved August 3, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Saturn S-IVB-504N - Satellite Information". Satellite database. Heavens-Above. Retrieved September 23, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Hengeveld, Ed (May 20, 2008). "The man behind the Moon mission patches". collectSPACE. Retrieved July 18, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> "A version of this article was published concurrently in the British Interplanetary Society's Spaceflight magazine."
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Apollo 9". National Space Science Data Center. NASA. Retrieved April 7, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • Baker, David (1982). The History of Manned Space Flight (1st ed.). New York: Crown Publishers. ISBN 0-517-54377-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

NASA reports