The Apollo Programme

The Apollo Programme
In 1968 the US Apollo 8 made the first manned orbit of the Moon. The Lunar Module on Apollo 10 got to within 15km (50,000 feet) of the Moon’s surface but did not land.

Finally, in July 1969 Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the Moon, with the famous words “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” He was closely followed by Buzz Aldrin. They remained on the Moon for 21 hours and collected specimens to bring back to Earth for study.

On each manned Apollo mission, there were three astronauts, the Commander, the Lunar Module Pilot and the Command Module Pilot. The Commander was in charge of the mission and was the main pilot of both spacecraft. He would also be the first to step out of the Lunar Module onto the surface of the Moon. The Lunar Module Pilot was the engineer and accompanied the Commander to the Moon’s surface. The Command Module Pilot acted as the navigator and remained in the Command Module whilst his fellow astronauts landed on the Moon’s surface. In the Apollo 11 mission this role was carried out by Michael Collins.

The five missions Apollo 12 and 14 to 17 all successfully landed on the Moon. In 1972 Apollo 17 was the last Apollo mission to the Moon.

Apollo 13
The Apollo 13 mission was supposed to land on the Moon. The spacecraft was successfully launched but when it was 320,000km (200,000 miles) from Earth the number 2 oxygen tank exploded. This seriously damaged the electrical system and meant that the spacecraft could not return to Earth in the normal manner. The crew on the spacecraft and at mission control had to come up with a very clever plan, using the Moon’s gravity to return the craft to Earth. Watched by millions on TV, the crew landed safely home.