This timeline shows key events from the U.S. Apollo human spaceflight program to take humans to the Moon. Produced by the National Air and Space Museum in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Created by AirandSpace on Feb 27, 2009
Last updated: 04/13/11 at 12:32 PM
Tags: apollo human spaceflight mission 11 moon landing anniversary NASA
The Apollo 17 Command Module (CM), with astronauts Eugene A. Cernan, Ronald E. Evans and Harrison H. Schmitt aboard, nears splashdown in the South Pacific Ocean to successfully concludes the final lunar landing mission in NASA's Apollo program. This overhead view was taken from a recovery aircraft seconds before the spacecraft hit the water. The splashdown occurred at 304:31:59 ground elapsed time, 2:24:59 p.m. (EST) December 19, 1972 about 350 nautical miles southeast of the Samoan Islands. The splashdown was only .8 miles from the target point. Later, the three crewmen were picked up by a helicopter from the prime recovery ship, U.S.S. Ticonderoga.
NASA Image #S72-55834
Liftoff of the Apollo 17 Saturn V Moon Rocket from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, Kennedy Space Center, Florida, at 12:33 a.m., December 7, 1972. Apollo 17, the final lunar landing mission, was the first night launch of a Saturn V rocket. Crew: Eugene A. Cernan,(commander), Ronald E. Evans ( command module pilot), Harrison H. Schmitt (lunar module pilot). Payload: command module "Casper", lunar module "Orion".
NASA GRIN Image#GPN-2000-001150
The Apollo 16 Command Module (CM), with astronauts John W. Young, Thomas K. Mattingly II, and Charles M. Duke Jr. aboard, splashed down in the central Pacific Ocean to successfully conclude their lunar landing mission. The splashdown occurred at 290:37:06 ground elapsed time, 2:45:06 p.m. (EST) Thursday, April 27, 1972, at coordinates of 00:43.2 degrees south latitude and 156:11.4 degrees west longitude. A point approximately 215 miles southeast of Christmas Island. Later the three crew men were picked up by a helicopter from the prime recovery ship U.S.S. Ticonderoga.
NASA Image #S72-36293
The Apollo 16 Saturn V space vehicle carrying astronauts John W. Young, Thomas K. Mattingly II, and Charles M. Duke, Jr., lifted off to the Moon at 12:54 p.m. EST April 16, 1972, from the Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39A.
NASA GRIN Image#GPN-2000-000638
The Apollo 15 Command Module (CM), with astronauts David R. Scott, commander; Alfred M. Worden, command module pilot; and James B. Irwin, lunar module pilot, aboard safely touches down in the mid-Pacific Ocean to conclude a highly successful lunar landing mission. Although causing no harm to the crew men, one of the three main parachutes failed to function properly. The splashdown occurred at 4:45:53 p.m. (EDT), Aug. 7, 1971, some 330 miles north of Honolulu, Hawaii. The three astronauts were picked up by helicopter and flown to the prime recovery ship, USS Okinawa, which was only 6 1/2 miles away.
NASA Image #S71-43543
Apollo 15 descends to the lunar surface. The target is landing site Hadley Rille/Apennine Mountains. The Apennine escarpment--highest on the Moon-- is higher above the flatlands than the east face of the Sierra Nevadas in California and the Himalayan front rising above the plains of India and Nepal. The landing site had been selected to allow the astronauts to drive from the LM to the Apennine front during two of the EVAs.
The 363-feet tall Apollo 15 (Spacecraft 112/Lunar Module 10/Saturn 510) space vehicle is launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, Kennedy Space Center, Florida, at 9:34:00.79 a.m., July 26, 1971, on a lunar landing mission. Aboard the Apollo 15 spacecraft were astronauts David R. Scott, commander; Alfred M. Worden, commander module pilot; and James B. Irwin, lunar module pilot. Apollo 15 was the fourth manned lunar landing mission.
NASA Image #S71-41810
Apollo 14 splashed down on February 9, 1971 at 4:05:00 p.m. EST approximately 765 nautical miles south of American Samoa. This image shows the Apollo 14 Command Module splashing down and two of its three main parachutes can be seen collapsing, as the ten-day lunar landing mission came to an end.
Apollo 14 launched at 4:03 p.m. EST on January 31, 1971 from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39A. It carried astronauts Crew Alan B. Shepard, Jr.(commander), Stuart A. Roosa (command module pilot) and
Edgar D. Mitchell (lunar module pilot). Payload included command module "Kitty Hawk" and lunar module "Antares".
NASA Image #MSFC-9309378
Apollo 13 splashed down in the Pacific at 1:07 p.m. EST on April 17, 1969.
NASA Image #AP13-S70-15870. Scan by Kipp Teague, Apollo Lunar Surface Journal.
Just after 10pm EST on April 13, Houston asks the astronauts to perform routine stir of the oxygen tanks. Moments later, an explosion rocked the spacecraft and at 10:08pm EST Lovell reported "Houston, we've had a problem." It was not until April 17, when this image was taken, that the astronauts could see the full extent of the damage to the service module.
NASA Image #AS13-59-8500, Scan by Kipp Teague, Apollo Lunar Surface Journal.
Apollo 13 lifted off from Launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center on April 11, 1970 at 2:13 p.m. EST. The spacecraft carried astronauts James A. Lovell, Jr. (commander),
John L. Swigert, Jr. (command module pilot), and Fred W. Haise, Jr. (lunar module pilot) with the command module "Odyssey" and lunar module "Aquarius".
NASA Image #ap13-S70-34853. Scan by Kipp Teague, Apollo Lunar Surface Journal
Apollo 12 splashdown occurred at 3:58 p.m. EST, November 24, 1969, near American Samoa.
Astronaut Alan L. Bean, Lunar Module pilot, pauses near a tool carrier during extravehicular activity (EVA) on the Moon's surface. Commander Charles Conrad Jr., who took the black and white photo, is reflected in Bean's helmet visor.
Apollo 12 lifted off from launch pad 39A at 11:22am EST on November 14, 1969.
Shortly after lift-off - at Ground Elapsed time of 36.5 seconds and 52 seconds - lightning struck both the Apollo 12 Saturn V and the launch tower. The strike briefly affected the spacecraft's electrical and guidance systems, but the problem was overcome quickly and Apollo 12 continued on to the Moon.
NASA Image #S69-60068
The Apollo 11 astronauts, Neil A. Armstrong, Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., and Michael Collins, wearing sombreros and ponchos, are swarmed by thousands in Mexico City as their motorcade is slowed by the enthusiastic crowd. The GIANTSTEP-APOLLO 11 Presidential Goodwill Tour emphasized the willingness of the United States to share its space knowledge. The tour carried the Apollo 11 astronauts and their wives to 24 countries and 27 cities in 45 days. NASA GRIN #GPN-2002-000016
New York City welcomes the three Apollo 11 astronauts, Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin, Jr., in a showering of ticker tape down Broadway and Park Avenue, in a parade termed at the time as the largest in the city's history.
The Apollo 11 Command Module "Columbia," with astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. splashed down in the Pacific at 2:50pm EDT on July 24, 1969 about 812 nautical miles southwest of Hawaii and only 12 nautical miles from the recovery ship USS Hornet. In this image, the Apollo 11 crew await pickup by a helicopter from the USS Hornet, prime recovery ship for the historic Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. The fourth man in the life raft is a United States Navy underwater demolition team swimmer. All four men are wearing Biological Isolation Garments (BIG).
The Apollo 11 Lunar Module ascent stage left the Moon at 1:54pm EDT and docked with the Command/Service Module at 5:35pm EDT. This images shows the Apollo 11 Lunar Module ascent stage, with Astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. aboard, is photographed from the Command and Service Modules (CSM) during rendezvous in lunar orbit. The Lunar Module (LM) was making its docking approach to the CSM. Astronaut Michael Collins remained with the CSM in lunar orbit while the other two crewmen explored the lunar surface.
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot of the first lunar landing mission, poses for a photograph beside the deployed United States flag during an Apollo 11 Extravehicular Activity (EVA) on the lunar surface. The flag was deployed at 11:41pm EDT. The Lunar Module (LM) is on the left, and the footprints of the astronauts are clearly visible in the soil of the Moon. Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander, took this picture with a 70mm Hasselblad lunar surface camera. While astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin descended in the LM, the "Eagle", to explore the Sea of Tranquility region of the Moon, astronaut Michael Collins, command module pilot, remained with the Command and Service Modules (CSM) "Columbia" in lunar-orbit.
NASA GRIN #GPN-2001-000012
A plaque affixed to the leg of the lunar landing vehicle is unveiled and Neil Armstrong reads the inscription. The plaque, signed by President Nixon, Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr, bears a map of the Earth and this inscription:
HERE MEN FROM THE PLANET EARTH
FIRST SET FOOT UPON THE MOON
JULY 1969 A.D.
WE CAME IN PEACE FOR ALL MANKIND
The plaque resides on the Moon still, left behind with the lower stage of the Lunar Module when Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong departed in the upper stage to rendezvous with Michael Colins orbiting in the CSM.
NASA photograph AS11-40-5899 of the plaque(processed by Kipp Teague)
NASA photograph AS11-40-5868 taken by Neil Armstrong (processed by Kipp Teague) shows Buzz Aldrin descending the ladder to the Lunar surface at mission elapsed time 109:42:42.
A few minutes after taking the first step on the Moon, Neil Armstrong took this photograph, the first taken on the surface of the Moon.
NASA photograph AS11-40-5850 processed by Kipp Teague. First EVA picture, Neil's first frame in a pan taken west of the ladder. Jettison bag under the Descent Stage, south footpad, bent probe, strut supports.
Neil Armstrong descends from the lander and takes the first step on the lunar surface at 10:56:15 PM EDT on July 20, 1969. "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind," Armstrong radios. This image is from a tv camera (deployed by Armstrong on his way down the ladder) that allowed his first step to be televised live on Earth.
The Command Service Module and Lunar Module undock during 13th revolution around Moon since they entered Lunar Orbit. Shortly after separating, the Lunar Module with astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin aboard began powered descent to land on the Moon. CSM Pilot Michael Collins continued orbiting the Moon in Columbia CSM.
NASA photograph AS11-37-5443 (processed by Kipp Teague) showing post-undocking view of the CSM during the separation sequence, with the eastern part of the Sea of Fertility (Mare Fecunditatis) about 195 km below. North is to the right.
9:35:17 EDT - 70mm Airborne Lightweight Optical Tracking System (ALOTS) camera, mounted in a pod on a cargo door of a U.S. Air Force EC-135N aircraft, photographed this event in the early moments of the Apollo 11 launch. The mated Apollo spacecraft and Saturn V second (S-II) and third (S-IVB) stages pull away from the expended first (S-1C) stage. Separation occurred at an altitude of about 38 miles, some 55 miles downrange from Cape Kennedy. The aircraft's pod is 20 feet long and 5 feet in diameter. The crew of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission were astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr.
At 9:32 a.m. EDT, the swing arms move away and a plume of flame signals the liftoff of the Apollo 11 Saturn V space vehicle and astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr. from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39A.
Splashdown occurred at 12:52 am (EDT), May 26, 1969, about 400 miles east of American Samoa. In this image, a Navy helicopter arrivies to recover the Apollo 10 astronauts, seen entering a life raft, as the Command Module "Charlie Brown" floats in the South Pacific. U.S. Navy underwater demolition team swimmers assist in the recovery operations.
The Apollo 10 mission was a complete staging of the Apollo 11 mission without actually landing on the Moon. The mission was the second to orbit the Moon and the first to travel to the Moon with the entire Apollo spacecraft configuration. Astronauts Thomas Stafford and Eugene Cernan decended inside the Lunar Module to within 14 kilometers of the lunar surface achieving the closest approach to the Moon before Apollo 11 landed two months later. This images shows the ascent stage of the Apollo 10 Lunar Module (LM) photographed from the Command Module prior to docking in lunar orbit (docking occurred at 11:11pm EDT/3:11 UTC 05/22/69). The LM is approaching the Command and Service Modules from below. The LM descent stage had already been jettisoned. The lunar surface in the background is near, but
beyond the eastern limb of the moon as viewed from earth (about 120 degrees east longitude). The red/blue diagonal line is the spacecraft window.
NASA Image #AS10-34-5112
Saturn V SA-506, the space vehicle for the first lunar landing mission, is rolled out of the Vehicle Assembly Building and down the 3.5 mile crawlerway to Launch Complex 39-A. The crawler moves at one mile per hour. Rollout began at 12:30pm EDT, before this image was taken.
NASA Image #69-HC-620
The Apollo 10 (Spacecraft 106/Lunar Module 4/Saturn 505) space vehicle launched from Pad B, Launch Complex 39, Kennedy Space Center at 12:49 p.m., May 18, 1969 carrying astronauts Thomas P. Stafford (commander), John W. Young (command module pilot), and Eugene A. Cernan (lunar module pilot).
Portrait of the prime crew of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. From left to right they are: Commander, Neil A. Armstrong, Command Module Pilot, Michael Collins, and Lunar Module Pilot, Edwin E. Aldrin Jr.
NASA GRIN #GPN-2000-001164
All times shown after this date are in EDT.
The Apollo 9 Command Module "Gumdrop", with astronauts James A. McDivitt, David R. Scott, and Russell L. Schweickart aboard, splashes down in the Atlantic recovery area to conclude a successful ten-day, Earth orbital mission. Splashdown occurred at 12:00:53 p.m. (EST), March 13, 1969, only 4.5 nautical miles from the prime recovery ship, U.S.S. Guadalcanal.
NASA GRIN #GPN-2000-001283
Apollo 9 Command/Service Modules (CSM) nicknamed "Gumdrop" and Lunar Module (LM), nicknamed "Spider" are shown docked together as Command Module pilot David R. Scott stands in the open hatch. Astronaut Russell L. Schweickart, Lunar Module pilot, took this photograph of Scott during his EVA as he stood on the porch outside the Lunar Module at around 12:23 PM (EST) [17:23 GMT]. Apollo 9 was an Earth orbital mission designed to test docking procedures between the CSM and LM as well as test fly the Lunar Module in the relative safe confines of Earth orbit.
NASA GRIN #GPN-2000-001100
The Apollo 9 (Spacecraft 104/Lunar Module 3/Saturn 504) space vehicle launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, Kennedy Space Center at 11 a.m., March 3, 1969. It carried commander James R. McDivitt, command module pilot David R. Scott and lunar module pilot R. L. Schweikart. 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.
Apollo 8 splashed down at 10:51 a.m. (EST), December 27, 1968, in the central Pacific Ocean, approximately 1,000 miles south-southwest of Hawaii. In this image (NASA GRIN #GPN-2000-001504), the Apollo 8 crew stands in the doorway of a recovery helicopter after arriving aboard the carrier U.S.S. Yorktown, recovery vessel for the historic initial manned lunar orbital mission. In left foreground is astronaut Frank Borman, Mission Commander. Behind Borman is astronaut James A. Lovell Jr., Command Module pilot; and on the right is astronaut William A. Anders, Lunar Module pilot.
The crew of Apollo 8 took this photo around 10:40 a.m. Houston time on the morning of Dec. 24 (NASA image #as08-14-2383). Later that evening, the astronauts gave a live television broadcast from lunar orbit, in which they showed pictures of the Earth and Moon seen from Apollo 8. They ended the broadcast by taking turns reading from the book of Genesis. Borman concluded with these words: "And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you - all of you on the good Earth."
The Apollo 8 mission lifted off from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center on December 21, 1968 at 7:51 am EST. It was the third Saturn V launch vehicle (SA-503) launch and the first manned Saturn V vehicle with a crew of three astronauts, Frank Borman, James A. Lovell, Jr., and William Anders. Apollo 8 was the first mission to take humans to the Moon and back.
NASA Image #MSFC-75-SA-4105-2C
The Apollo 7 spacecraft splashed down at 7:11 a.m., October 22, 1968, approximately 200 nautical miles south-southwest of Bermuda. This image shows astronaut Walter M. Schirra, Jr., Apollo 7 commander, egresses the spacecraft during recovery operations in the Atlantic. He is assisted by a member of the U.S. Navy frogman team.
Apollo 7 was launched from Cape Kennedy, Fla., at 11:02:45 a.m., EST, on October 11, 1968 from launch complex 34 on top of a Saturn IB rocket. The crew included commander Walter M. Schirra, Jr., command module pilot Donn F. Eisele, and Walter Cunningham as lunar module pilot. Apollo 7 carried a lunar module pilot, but no lunar module. Apollo 7 was the first US three man mission, and first flight of the Apollo space suits, first live national TV from space during a manned space flight.
The USS Okinawa was the prime recovery ship for the Apollo 6 (Spacecraft 020/Saturn 502) unmanned space mission. Splashdown occurred at 4:58:45 p.m. (EST), April 4, 1968, at 375 nautical miles north of Honolulu, Hawaii.
NASA Image #S68-27884
Apollo 6 launched from Kennedy Space Center on April 4, 1968 and the unmanned Command Module (CM 020) was recovered in the Pacific Ocean 10 hours later. Apollo 6 was the second test flight for the giant Saturn V launch vehicle and the last unmanned flight of Project Apollo. The boilerplate lunar module (LTA-2R) was aboard to provide information on launch characteristics without having to use an actual Lunar Module, and the CM was attached to Service Module SM-014. The Apollo 6 spacecraft itself performed well on the mission despite problems with the Saturn V's first, second and third stages. The problems were solved after the flight and the next Saturn V, the Apollo 8 mission, was launched manned. The successful performance of the Command and Service Modules also allowed the next launch to be manned--the Apollo 7 mission launched on a Saturn IB booster.
NASA Image #MSFC-75-SA-4105-2C
The Apollo 5 (LM-1/Saturn 204) unmanned space mission was launched from the Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 37 at 5:48:09 p.m., January 22, 1968. The launch vehicle carried LM-1 (Lunar Module 1). There was no command module recovery. NASA Image #MSFC-75-SA-4105-2C
Apollo 4 splashed down at 03:37 pm EST on November 9, 1967. This image shows the Apollo Spacecraft 017 Command Module, with flotation collar attached, is hoisted aboard the U.S.S. Bennington during recovery operations in the Mid-Pacific.
Apollo 4 was launched on Nov. 9, 1967 at 07:00:01 am EST and was the first flight of the giant Saturn V launch vehicle. Reaching an altitude of 11,234 miles, the unmanned flight of Command and Service Modules CSM 017 lasted 8 1/2 hours. The Command Module re-entered the atmosphere at 24,917 mph and splashed down in the Pacific. The flight qualified the heat shield for lunar flight.
Tragedy struck on the launch pad during a preflight test for Apollo 204, scheduled to be the first Apollo manned mission. It would have been launched on February 21, 1967, but Astronauts Virgil Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chaffee lost their lives when a fire swept through the Command Module (CM) on January 27, 1967. The fire began at 23:31:04.7 GMT (6:31:04.7 p.m. EST). This image taken after the fire shows exterior damage to the command module.
On May 25, 1961, just 20 days after Alan Shepard became the first American to travel in space, Kennedy announced the goal of landing a man on the Moon before a joint session of Congress.
"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 the Earth. No single space project...will be more exciting, or more impressive to mankind, or more important...and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish...".