Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

Apollo 9 (AS-504)

Manned Test of Lunar Hardware in Earth Orbit

Apollo 9 Lunar Module

Apollo 9 Command Module

The Apollo 9 mission was the first manned flight of all Apollo lunar hardware in Earth orbit and first manned flight of the lunar module. Lunar module pilot Russel L. Schweickart performed a 37 minute EVA. Human reactions to space and weightlessness were tested in 152 orbits.

Summary of Events

The Apollo 9 mission was launched from Cape Kennedy at 11 a.m. EST on March 3, 1969 from Launch complex 39A. The primary objectives were to demonstrate crew, space vehicle and mission support facilities performance during a manned Saturn V mission with the command-service module (CSM) and the lunar module (LM); demonstrate LM/crew performance; demonstrate docking, intervehicular crew transfer, extravehicular capability and LM-active rendezvous and docking; and conduct CSM/LM consumables assessment. All primary objectives were accomplished.

The Apollo 9 launch was the first Saturn V/Apollo Spacecraft in full lunar mission configuration and carried the largest payload ever placed in orbit. Since Apollo 9 was the first manned demonstration of lunar module systems performance, many firsts were achieved.

The crew had remarkable success in sighting objects using the crewman optical alignment sight (COAS). Their success seems to confirm the thesis that the visual acuity of the human eye is increased in space. One example is their sighting of the Pegasus II Satellite at a range of approximately 1,000 miles.

From APOLLO PROGRAM Flight Summary Report, Apollo Missions AS-201 through APOLLO 16, June 1972.