It was fifty years ago today-  Apollo 9 launched from Cape Kennedy, Florida at 11 AM. The astronauts were James McDivitt, David Scott and Rusty Schweickart. It would be McDivitt’s second and final spaceflight, Scott would in the future go to the moon as commander of Apollo 15- he was the seventh man to walk on the moon and it would be Schweickart’s only spaceflight.

Apollo9 Prime Crew.jpg

To me the Gemini and Apollo astronauts were like baseball stars or rock stars. I was eight years old and totally taken with the space missions back then. Apollo 9 isn’t remembered like Apollo 8-which in late December had went around the moon and back. The mission of Apollo 9 was important though- the lunar module needed to be tested in its ability to undock and then redock with the lunar orbiter. The stakes were high- to go to the moon and back as planned in the near future this had to work- at the time AP reporter Paul Recer described the mission as “a flight that will put America on the moon’s threshold or slam the door indefinitely”. We know how things worked out but at the time there were many anxious people. Apollo 9 would be in low Earth orbit for ten days doing their tests. There would be one more testing flight Apollo 10 before the scheduled Apollo 11 would go to the moon in mid-July.  Video of the launch attached below–




    • It is typical of how attention spans are so short- that in a couple years most of america lost interest. in 1969 everyone was glued to their tv’s– a few years later it was Ho-Hum…. Thanks.

    • No question- and patience- people want thinks NOW! There was a time when you knew there were things you would just have to wait for–now people want things immediately.. what gets me isn’t the kids who are used to that because that is all they know- but older people who lived back when things went slower and you had to be patient. They can be the worst..

  1. I would have been 7. My school had a TV that the caretaker would wheel into the hall. We’d watch but soon wander off to the playground to kick a ball around.
    For last Christmas son no 1 bought granddaughter a wonderful book on the Solar System, full of fantastic photos and facts. I can remember sitting in that same school library fascinated with a ‘How and Why’ book on the same subject with ‘artist impressions’ of the planets and spacemen.

    • Yes I remember that tv that they would wheel into the room… and I remember a few years later a teacher bought one of the first VCR’s–I couldn’t believe it- a machine that could tape programs- and it was a huge machine that needed its own cart… those were great books- there are things i haven’t studied since i was 9 or 10 and yet remember clear as a bell from those type books.

  2. My husband totally wanted to be an astronaut when he was a kid, even to the point where he wrote to NASA….and they wrote him back! Years later, he gave that letter to his son (to inspire him), and recently when he asked his son about the letter, guess what the response was? *shrug* “I don’t know where it is…..”

    • ouch… that is cool that they wrote back.. i mentioned this somewhere along the line before- i wanted to be an astronaut too- once i was talking to my students about it and mentioned that why couldn’t i have been an astronaut? [my answer was i was too tall] some wisenheimer raises his hand and said ‘your not smart enough’– i almost cried laughing he was right.

  3. Wow! I think we’d have to define what “smart enough” is! How old were your students?
    My husband said the thing that got him to turn away from that dream, at 13, after getting the letter: 10,000 hours of flight time. He knew he pretty much wasn’t going to be able to get to that point. Not fast enough. If ever.

  4. This is fascinating footage – thanks for posting it. It amazes me how they were able to put a rocket into orbit, never mind land men on the moon.

    We just saw First Man, which I really liked. Did you see it?

    • I have it ordered on the library loan system- am waiting for it to come in. Looking forward to seeing it.

  5. I could watch these launchs all day long. I always thought It was so cool they could get something so big to get off the ground. – and then seeing the actual Saturn V at the Air&Space Museum it was even more impressive – that sucker is huge !

Comments are closed.