The Apollo Program is one of mankind’s greatest achievement! A program launched by NASA in 1961, Apollo made great discoveries and succeed to do something thought as impossible, to put a man in the moon. And mind you , not one time but SIX TIMES! Today we are going to learn some facts about this huge endeavor.
The first interesting fact is about Apollo 2 and 3 missions did not technically exist. They where never any test flights called Apollo 2 and 3. The Apollo and and a number scheme started when in 1967 a test flight , known then as AS-204, went horrible wrong killing 3 the astronauts when a fire broke out in a pre flight test. To honor the astronauts the test flight was called Apollo 1. But there was a bit of a problem ’cause before that test flight 3 other had happened named AS-201, 202 and 203. NASA decided to just name the next mission Apollo 4 and not change the names of the previous missions.
Shockingly enough the Apollo program only costed $20 billion. In today’s dollars though each mission costs around $18 billion.
The spacesuits that the astronauts wore during the mission were made by a company known for making bras and girdles called Playtex. Playtex won a contract to make spacesuits in 1962 and to this day serves as a NASA contractor under the name ILC Dover.
When Apollo 4 , one of the first test of the Saturn V rocket, launched it made one of the loudest man-made sounds ever. Launched in November 9, 1967 it was so loud that it shook building in a 3 miles radius. Later missions used 300,000 gallons of water sprayed during launch in just 41 seconds.
Speaking of the Saturn V rocket , did you know that the Saturn V launch vehicle was taller that the Statue of Liberty? It is about 18 meters longer and 15 meters longer than the Big Ben in London. The Saturn V rocket ,fully fueled , weights about 3,000 metric tons.
Apollo 6 was an unmanned test flight that went horribly wrong. For half a minute the rocket starting bouncing up and down in the air , like a rocket in a pogo stick (that’s why this effect is called “pogo effect”). This failure did not get national attention because in the same day the launch was scheduled was the same day that Martin Luther King Jr. was killed.
Apollo 7 was the first manned mission launched in October 1968. The spacecraft reached low-earth orbit and traveled for about 11 days. For the first time NASA managed to transmit video feed on television. One of the astronauts, Walter Schirra, jokingly remarked that he “was going to try fro an Emmy for the best weekly series”. In 1969 all the Apollo missions that made broadcasts back to earth received a Trustees Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
On Christmas Eve 1968, Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders circled the Moon and snapped the famous Earthrise photo. They were also told to do “something appropriate” to honor the event for the millions who were listening to them. They decided to recite from Genesis. Famous atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair sued, alleging her First Amendment rights had been violated. Ultimately, the judge dismissed the suit and the Supreme Court declined to hear it due to lack of jurisdiction.
Apollo 9 was the 3rd manned mission in the Apollo program. The mission launched in March 1969. It was the first mission to test the Command and Service Module (CSM) with the Lunar Module(LM). It was also the first mission to test the Portable Life Support System in space.
Apollo 10 , launched in May of the same year, was the last test of the equipment to prove it was ready for moon landing. The mission almost reached the point of landing in the moon. Its success enabled the first landing to be attempted on the Apollo 11 mission two months later. Apollo 10 also set the record for the fastest manned object reaching speeds 11.08KM/s when it was returning from the moon.
The first successful landing on the moon was achieved with Apollo 11, as we all know. It launched on July 16 1969 and landed on the moon July 20. The crew landed back to earth in the pacific ocean on July 24. The crew then had to wear special suits called Biological Isolation Garments because NASA thought there might be a small chance the astronauts could bring back to earth pathogens. Therefore the crew sat in quarantine for 21 days.
Apollo 12 was the second mission to land on the moon. It was also the first mission that brought along a state of the art color camera. Unfortunately, when Alan Bean was setting up the camera shortly after landing, he accidentally pointed it at the Sun. This destroyed the video camera tube, therefore preventing the rest of the mission on the Moon from being filmed. Also an other fun fact is when Pete Conrad, part of the Apollo 12 crew, stepped onto the surface of the moon said “Whoopie! Man, that may have been a small one for Neil, but that’s a long one for me.” He said these words as a $500 bet with a reporter, who had asked if Neil Armstrong’s “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” words were written for him by NASA. Despite proving the reporter wrong, he didn’t collect his money.
Apollo 13 was supposed to be NASA’s third mission to land to the moon. But if you have seen the 1995 movie Apollo 13 you know that it did not manage to land. The spacecraft had a catastrophic problem resulting in a oxygen tank being ripped apart and damaging another one. After a lot of work and a lot of hardships for the crew trying to survive in freezing temperatures and with limited water and food the crew succeeded on returning home.