Apollo 9

Apollo 9 was the third crewed mission in the United States Apollo space program, the second to be sent into orbit by a Saturn V rocket, and the first flight of the full Apollo spacecraft: the command and service module (CSM) with the Lunar Module (LM). Flown in Low Earth Orbit, its major purposes were to qualify the LM for lunar orbit operations and to show that it and the CSM could separate and move well apart, before rendezvousing and docking again, as they would have to do on subsequent lunar landing missions. The three-person crew consisted of Commander James McDivitt, Command Module Pilot David Scott, and Lunar Module Pilot Rusty Schweickart. During the ten-day mission, they tested systems and procedures critical to landing on the Moon, including the LM engines, backpack life support systems, navigation systems, and docking maneuvers. After launching on March 3, 1969, the crew performed the first crewed flight of a LM, the first docking and extraction of a LM, one two-person spacewalk (EVA), and the second docking of two crewed spacecraft—two months after the Soviets performed a spacewalk crew transfer between Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5. The mission concluded on March 13 and was a full success. It proved the LM worthy of crewed spaceflight, thus setting the stage for the dress rehearsal for the lunar landing, Apollo 10, before the ultimate goal, landing on the Moon.


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