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Apollo Mission

Landing on the Moon

The world was there on the surface of the Moon via TV images seen around the planet. This section gives you information and links for learning the story of the Apollo program.

Manned Mission to the Moon

Aldrin on the MoonIn this famous picture from the Apollo 11 mission, Buzz Aldrin is photographed on the surface of the moon. In larger images you can see the reflection of Neil Armstrong in the helmet visor.

The Apollo program was the result of many years of effort and expense. The political advantage of being first to the moon pushed the US into a space race with the USSR, a union of communist/socialist countries around Russia. A brief summary and images of the Apollo program are discussed here with links for more research into these historic missions.

Apollo 1

Astronauts Chaffee, White, and Grissom at a press conference.The Apollo program was delayed because of a tragedy due to a devastating fire inside the capsule. From the left in the image are astronauts Roger Chaffee, Edward H. White II and Virgil I. (Gus) Grissom at a press conference in 1966. Lt. Col. Grissom was a veteran of Mercury and Gemini missions. Lt. Col. White was the astronaut who had performed the first United States extravehicular activity (EVA) during the Gemini program. Lt. Cmdr. Chaffee was an astronaut preparing for his first space flight. All died in this tragic accident on the launch pad.

Apollo 6

Apollo 6 Launch This space mission was launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The liftoff of the Apollo 6 on April 4, 1968, was the last unmanned test of the huge Saturn V rocket systems and the Apollo modules. The other Apollo flights up to this time tested different parts of the complex project.

The spacecraft (right) consisted of the three-stage Saturn V, the Apollo Command and Service Module and a simulated Lunar Module.

Apollo 7

Apollo 7 Docking Target A rendezvous in space was needed to test docking procedures for the lunar module. The expended Saturn IVB stage was photographed from the Apollo 7 spacecraft during transposition and docking maneuvers. This image (left) was taken during Apollo 7's second revolution of the Earth. The round, white disc inside the open panels of the Saturn IVB is a simulated docking target similar to that used on the lunar module for docking during lunar missions.

Apollo 8

Earthrise on the moonThe crew of Apollo 8 were the first humans to orbit the moon. While orbiting 10 times in December, 1968, they took this picture of the Earth above the lunar surface. The horizon, about 570 kilometers (250 statute miles) from the spacecraft, is near the eastern limb (edge) of the Moon as viewed from the Earth.

On the Earth, the sunset terminator (between day and night) crosses Africa. The south pole is in the white area near the left end of the terminator. The sunlight is coming from the top of the image so the "normal", north pole on top, viewpoint would require turning the image so that the Moon is on the right side of the picture.

Apollo 9

Lunar Module Spider ascent stageThe Lunar Module "Spider" ascent stage is photographed from the Command/Service Module on the fifth day of the Apollo 9 earth-orbital mission. The Lunar Module's descent stage had already been released.

Apollo 10

Apollo 10 over the MoonThis mission orbited the moon, tested the Lunar Module by separating it from the Command and Service Module (CSM) and descending to within 15,240 meters of the lunar surface. In this image the CSM was about 175 statute miles east of Smyth's Sea on the lunar farside. The horizon is approximately 600 kilometers (374 statute miles) away. The sun was almost directly overhead as can be seen by the many bright craters and the absence of shadows.

Apollo 11

Apollo 11 Lunar landing moduleThe first humans landed on the moon on July 20, 1969 in Mare Tranquillitatis, Latin for Sea of Tranquillity. The three astronauts were Neil A. Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, command module pilot; and Edwin "Buzz" E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot. Armstrong and Aldrin picked up soil and rock samples and left some experiments while Collins remained in orbit. Most names of the features on the moon are Latin names as well as constellations and other astronomical objects.

After re-entering the Earth's atmosphere and slowing down by parachutes the returning spacecraft landed in the ocean. Apollo 11 splashed down at 11:49 a.m. (CDT), July 24, 1969, about 812 nautical miles southwest of Hawaii.

Apollo 12

Apollo 12 landerIn November, 1969, Apollo 12 landed in Oceanus Procellarum and in addition to getting lunar samples brought back the camera and other parts of Surveyor 3, an unmanned probe sent to find out the landing conditions on that part of the moon. In the image at right the umbrella-like object is the S-band antenna for communications.

Apollo 13

Damaged Command and Service ModuleThe bad luck of Apollo 13 tested the resolve of the nation, the survival spirit of the astronauts and the ingenuity of scientists in the Apollo program. An explosion destroyed power and propulsion systems in the Command and Service Module leaving the astronauts in a deadly situation. The Lunar Module was used as a lifeboat and the crew returned safely April 17, 1970.

Apollo 14

Laser Ranging Retro ReflectorApollo 14 landed in the Fra Mauro highlands where they gathered more lunar samples. Alan Shepherd who was in the original Mercury group of astronauts had time to hit a few golf balls while he was there. The image at right is a close-up view of the Laser Ranging Retro Reflector which was deployed on the Moon by the Apollo 14 astronauts during their first extravehicular activity. The red line is drawn next to a footprint to compare the size of the reflector. The device helped determine the exact distance between the Earth and the Moon.

Apollo 15

Lunar Roving VehicleThe first use of the Lunar Roving Vehicle came with Apollo 15. The Command and Service Module deployed a satellite into lunar orbit and astronaut Alfred Worden made a spacewalk. In the image at left, astronaut David R. Scott is in front of the Lunar Roving Vehicle during the mission's third extravehicular activity (EVA-3). He is standing in the Hadley Delta.

Apollo 16

Apollo 16 ALSEP instrumentsThe astronauts on Apollo 16 stayed on the surface for 71 hours and drove a lunar rover while setting up experiments and picking up more samples. The image at right is a partial view of the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP) on the lunar surface on April 21, 1972. The Passive Seismic Experiment (PSE) is in the foreground center; Central Station (C/S) is in center background, with the Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG) to the left. One of the anchor flags for the Active Seismic Experiment (ASE) is at right.

Apollo 17

Astronaut Schmitt working near a huge boulderThe last humans on the moon landed on December 12, 1972. They also used a lunar rover when collecting samples and doing experiments. Geologist-astronaut Harrison H. Schmitt is working near a huge boulder during the third Apollo 17 Extravehicular Activity (EVA-3) at the Taurus-Littrow landing site. The front portion of the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) is visible on the right.

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