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May 18, 2009 - So Close, and Yet So Far

So Close, and Yet So Far  The Apollo 10 mission, the final practice flight before the first lunar landing, was launched forty years ago this week. Designed as a dress rehearsal for the history-making Apollo 11 flight, Apollo 10 was to demonstrate all the procedures necessary for an actual lunar landing, but the crew was to take the fully-functional Lunar Module, Snoopy, no closer than 50,000 feet from the lunar surface. Astronauts Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan piloted Snoopy closer to the Moon than any human had ever traveled before, while John Young remained in lunar orbit in the Command Module Charlie Brown.  This image of Charlie Brown was taken just before the two craft were reunited, a mission-critical event because the astronauts in Snoopy had no other means of returning to Earth.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

May 18-24, 2009

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Monday 18

Victoria Day (Canada) 

Mercury in inferior conjunction

1969: Apollo 10 launched
1984: Viking 1 lander given to National Air & Space Museum
1996: First test flight of DC-XA rocket
2009: 23rd and final spacewalk to service the Hubble Space Telescope

Tuesday 19

Uranus 5° south of Moon

1965: Apollo A-003 launched
1996: STS-77 Endeavour launched
2000: STS-101 Atlantis launched

Wednesday 20

1978: Pioneer-Venus 1 launched
1995: Spektr module launched to Mir space station

Thursday 21

Ascension Day

Venus 7° south of Moon
Mars 7° south of Moon

Friday 22

1969: Apollo 10 lunar module descends to within 50,000 feet of the lunar surface

Saturday 23

1984: NASA selects 10th astronaut group 

Sunday 24

New Moon 8:11 am

1962Aurora 7 launched

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.