This Day in Space History: Apollo-X Launch

Forty years ago today — May 18, 1969 — astronauts Thomas P. Stafford, John W. Young, Jr., and Eugene A. Cernan lifted off on the Apollo 10 mission. Their Saturn V launch vehicle (number SA-505) launched at 12:49 a.m. EDT from the Kennedy Space Center, on “the mission before THE mission.”

(Apollo-X launch. Click to enlarge.)

Travelling in Command Module “Charlie Brown” and Lunar Module “Snoopy,” the astronauts tested all aspects of the lunar mission except the actual lunar landing, and accomplished several “firsts” including:

  • First transmitted color photographs of the full Earth from a crew in space
  • First demonstration rendezvous in lunar orbit
  • First burning of LM descent stage engine in lunar landing configuration
  • First LM steerable antenna at lunar distances
  • First LM within 15,240 meters [8 nautical miles] of the lunar surface
  • First crew-assisted navigational, visual, and photographic evaluations of the moon
  • First and only Apollo launch from Launch Complex 39B

(Views of Earth from Apollo-X. Click to enlarge.)


Images from the Johnson Space Center Digital Image Collection.

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