Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Apollo 10


Date: May 18-26, 1969
Crew: Commander Tom Stafford (38)
Command Module Pilot John Young (38)
Lunar Module Pilot Gene Cernan(35)

Command Module Call Sign: Charlie Brown
Lunar Module Call Sign: Snoopy

Mission Distinctions: Test of the Lunar Module in Lunar Orbit, first use of color television in space. Apollo 10 was referred to colloquially as "The Dress Rehearsal."

Snoopy Mascot
Stafford, Young & Cernan were the first all-veteran crew to take to the skies in the Apollo program with no rookies. (Cernan had flown one Gemini flight; Stafford and Young and had flown two apiece.)

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Apollo 10’s return from the moon set the record for the highest speed attained by a manned vehicle at 39,897 km/h (or 24,791 mph).

Throughout 31 orbits of the moon, Apollo 10 was tasked with testing the unproven Lunar Module guidance and navigation system. During trial maneuvers, the LM came within 8.4 nautical miles of the moon’s surface.

Apollo 10
The Apollo 10 capsule, as photographed from the LM

Upon return to Earth, Apollo 10 had the most accurate splashdown of the entire program in terms of timing and location of their planned pinpoint-landing. (Apollo 13 had the second most accurate.)

Snoopy had also chosen as an official symbol of merit for America's space program, and cartoonist Charles Schulz even designed original artwork for missions, brochures, posters, etc. Through the decades, the connections between the Peanuts cartoon and NASA have remained evident in art, awards and mission control mascots. Each year, "Silver Snoopy" awards are presented to NASA employees who demonstrate excellence in their work.

NASA Silver SnoopyCurrently, the Apollo 10 Command Module is on loan to the Science Museum in London, England. And to this day, the Lunar Module Snoopy is still intact… the lone true LM ascent stage which still survives. Why? Because it’s still out there in heliocentric orbit!