It was the Apollo Program which landed the first humans on the Moon. It began in earnest on May 25th, 1961, when President John F. Kennedy announced his support for a manned Moon landing.

President Kennedy, who was in his fourth month of office, said, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important in the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.”

“We choose to go to the Moon . . .”

President Kennedy’s audacious goal was met on July 20th, 1969 when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descended to the Moon’s surface in their Lunar Module as Michael Collins orbited above.

Altogether, six Apollo missions landed on the Moon, the last of which was Apollo 17 in December of 1972. The twelve astronauts who walked on the Moon are the only human beings to have set foot on another celestial body.

Considering the significance of its legacy, the Apollo Program was relatively short-lived. It ran from 1961 until 1975 and was NASA’s third human spaceflight program, following Mercury, whose manned missions sent a single astronaut into space, and Gemini, which featured two-man capsules. The Apollo spacecraft and Saturn launch vehicles were used for the Skylab and the Apollo-Soyuz projects after the Apollo Program had been discontinued and are thus sometimes considered to be part of the overall Apollo program.

The Apollo Program established a number of historic, scientific and engineering milestones in human spaceflight. Its manned missions were the only ones to send astronauts beyond low Earth orbit. Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to orbit another celestial body. Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt on Apollo 17 conducted the last Moonwalks; theirs was also the last manned mission beyond low Earth orbit.

Along with advances in rocketry and manned spaceflight, the Apollo Program led to developments in many areas of technology, including avionics, telecommunications, and computers.  

The Apollo program stimulated many areas of technological research and development. The flight computer design used in both the lunar and command modules was a driving force behind early research into integrated circuits. The program used the first practical fuel cell. Computer-controlled machining was pioneered in fabricating Apollo components.

A number of space explorers have commented on the profound effects that seeing the Earth from space has had on them.  Apollo 10 and 17 astronaut and OMEGA ambassador Eugene Cernan, in talking about the cultural impact of the Apollo missions, said, “We went to explore the Moon, and in fact discovered the Earth.”

One of the more conspicuous legacies of the Apollo program is the now-common view of Earth as a fragile, small planet, captured in the photographs taken by the astronauts during the lunar missions, most notably the so-called “Blue Marble” taken by the crew of Apollo 17. It’s impossible not to be stirred by this image of our beautiful but small planet, in what has been described as the single most-widely distributed photograph in human history.


Apollo 7

Altitude: 140 x 183 miles
Number of orbits: 163
Duration: 10 days, 20 hours, 0 minutes, 0 seconds

Walter M.Schirra Jr., Commander
Don F.Eisele, Command Module Pilot
R.Walter Cunningham, Lunar Module Pilot

"The Apollo 7 design itself highlighted the earth orbital nature of the mission... I zeroed in on a circle (for the Earth) and an ellipse (for orbit). The orbital plane was tilted for artistic reasons".

Walt Cunningham, Lunar Module Pilot

Apollo 8

December 21-27, 1968

Altitude: 190 km x 180 km
Duration: 6 days, 3 hours, 0 minutes, 42 seconds

Frank Borman, Commander
James A.Lovell, Jr.,Command Module Pilot
William A.Anders, Lunar Module Pilot

"As shown by the patch, the Apollo 8 mission changed Man's concept of his "small home". The shape of the patch symbolizes the Apollo spacecraft. The figure 8 signifies Apollo 8, and also the flight path we took to the moon and back".

Jim Lovell, Command Module Pilot.A

Apollo 9 - "Gumdrop & Spider"

March 3-13, 1969
192 km x 190 km
Duration: 10 days, 1 hours, 0 minutes, 0 seconds 

James A.McDivitt, Commander
David R.Scott, Command Module Pilot
Russel L.Schweickart, Lunar Module Pilot  

"The patch shows the first flight of the lunar module, named "Spider" or "15-Tonne Taxi" by the astronauts.

Jim McDivitt, Commander.  

Apollo 10 - "Snoopy & Charlie Brown"

May 18-26, 1969

Altitude: 190 km x 184 km
Duration: 8 days, 0 hours, 3 minutes, 23 seconds  

Thomas P.Stafford, Commander
John W.Young, Command Module Pilot
Eugene A.Cernan, Lunar Module Pilot  

"The Apollo 10 patch was based more on the mechanics and goals of the mission than the philosophy of the space program or of the astronauts flying this mission. It showed a big
Roman numeral X supposed to give the three dimensional effect of sitting on the surface of the Moon..."

Gene Cernan, Lunar Module Pilot.

Apollo 11 - "Columbia and Eagle"

July 16-24, 1969

Lunar location: Sea of Tranquility
Duration: 8 days, 3 hours, 18 minutes, 35 seconds

Neil A.Armstrong, Commander
Michael Collins, Command Module Pilot
Edwin E."Buzz" Aldrin Jr.,Lunar Module Pilot  

"The patch showed the historical flight: a bald eagle landing gear extended, wings partially folded, coming in for a landing".

Mike Collins, Command Module Pilot. 

Apollo 12 - "Intrepid and Yankee Clipper"

November 14-24, 1969

Lunar location: Ocean of Storms
Duration: 10 days, 4 hours, 36 minutes, 0 seconds

Charles Pete Conrad Jr., Commander
Richard F.Gordon Jr., Command Module Pilot
Alan L.Bean, Lunar Module Pilot  

"We selected the blue and gold colours for our patch, because they are Navy colours and all of us were in the Navy... The ship was patterned in a way after a Navy ship...
We felt that the clipper ship was definitely an American symbol".

Al Bean, Lunar Module Pilot. 

Apollo 13 - "Odyssey and Aquarius"

April 11-17, 1970

Duration: 5 days, 22 hours, 54 minutes, 0 seconds 

James A.Lovell Jr., Commander
Fred W.Haise Jr., Lunar Module Pilot
John L.Swigert Jr., Command Module Pilot 

"We started out designing this patch with the idea of the mythical god Apollo driving his chariot across the sky and dragging the sun with it... The New York artist Lumen Winter came up with the three horse design, but also included the Earth and the Moon..."

Jim Lovell, Commander.  

Apollo 14 - "Kitty Hawk and Antares"

January 31-February 9, 1971

Lunar location: Fra Mauro
Duration: 9 days, 0 hours, 0 minutes, 0 seconds

Alan B.Shepard Jr., Commander
Stuart A.Roosa, Command Module Pilot
Edgar D.Mitchell, Lunar Module Pilot 

"Our crew wanted an aesthetically pleasing design with simplicity and style. We chose for the Earth and Moon to be portrayed and for the Astronaut symbol - the shooting star - to represent the crew". Ed Mitchell, Lunar Module Pilot. "I was the one who named the command module "Kitty Hawk". I did it to honour the place where it all began with the Wright Brothers. Ed named the lunar module "Antares" - a red star in the Scorpius constellation -, the most visible landmark from the landing area on the Moon..."

Stuart Rosa, Command Module Pilot.

Apollo 15 - "Endeavour and Falcon"

July 26 - August 7, 1971

Lunar Location: Hadley-Apennine 
Duration: 12 days, 17 hours, 12 minutes, 0 seconds   

David R.Scott, Commander
Alfred M.Worden, Command Module Pilot
James B.Irwin, Lunar Module Pilot 

"The mission patch for Apollo 15 was basically designed by the Italian dress designer, Emilio Pucci. He was, as I best recall, an aeronautical engineer, and had a good feeling for flight ... The symbolism is of three stylized birds flying over the lunar surface, each indicating one of us who were on the flight.."

Al Worden, Command Module pilot. 

Apollo 16 - "Casper and Orion"

April 16-27, 1972

Lunar location: Descartes Highlands
Duration: 11 days, 1 hour, 51 minutes, 0 seconds  

John W.Young, Commander
Thomas K.Mattingly, Command Module Pilot
Charles M.Duke, Lunar Module Pilot 

"We wanted to tell the teamwork story, plus identify the crew, plus keep America visible. The Eagle and shield and the red, white and blue for the U.S.A. The wishbone for NASA. The Moon to signify our landing. The 16 stars for our flight number. Ken selected Casper for his command module and John and I selected Orion.
We wanted something connected with the stars".

Charlie Duke, Lunar Module Pilot.  

Apollo 17 - "America and Challenger"

December 7-19, 1972

Lunar location: Taurus-Littrow
Duration: 12 days, 13 hours, 52 minutes, 0 seconds  

Eugene A. Cernan, Commander
Ronald B. Evans, Command Module Pilot
Harrison H. Schmitt, Lunar Module Pilot

"In this patch, for the final Apollo mission, the crew wanted to capture Man, the Future, the Recollection of Apollo, the Flag and its contemporary heritage. The bust of Apollo represents the program itself, but in addition typifies man throughout his existence... his intelligence, his wisdom, and his ambition. Notice this bust is looking forward..." We have a contemporary Eagle, the wings of which represent the flag of our country, the three stars representing the crew.
The Eagle's wings just touch the lunar surface suggesting that this is a celestial body that man has visited and in a sense conquered. But it too is looking far beyond into the future. The future is represented by the Spiral Galaxy and Saturn, implying that Man's goals in space will someday include the planets and, perhaps, the stars".

Gene Cernan, Commander



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