Category Paving the Way for Apollo 11


AS-205 lifted off from Pad 34 at 15:02:45 GMT on 11 October 1968 to fly the ‘C’ mission. Flown by Wally Schirra, Donn Eisele and Walt Cunningham, Apollo 7 was

to be open-ended up to 11 days and its purpose was to assess the performance of the Block II spacecraft.

The ascent phase was nominal and the S-IVB achieved a 123 x 152-nautical mile orbit. Prior to separating from the spent stage, the crew temporarily took command of the Instrument Unit and manually manoeuvred the combined vehicle in pitch, roll, and yaw, then they returned control to the launch vehicle. By the time the spacecraft separated at 002:55:02.40, venting of S-IVB propellants had raised the orbit to 123 x 170 nautical miles. The spacecraft moved clear, flipped and moved back in as if to retrieve the LM (which was absent). Since one of the four panels of the SLA had not fully deployed, it was decided that in future the panels would be jettisoned. One of the primary objectives was to demonstrate Apollo’s rendezvous capability using the spent stage as the target. At Schirra’s insistence, one man was awake at all times to monitor the spacecraft’s systems, even though the ongoing work made sleeping difficult. The rendezvous rehearsal was successfully achieved on the second day.

Although this was the first US spacecraft to have sufficient habitable volume for a man to leave his couch and move around, the crew suffered no disorientation in the weightless state, despite efforts to induce motion sickness. However, all three men developed head colds early on, making them grumpy, and in-flight TV, which was a secondary objective, provided a focus for their frustration. When the monochrome camera was finally switched on, however, it delivered excellent results and the crew played up to their audience. But it was a long and tedious flight of monitoring the systems to evaluate their performance, always prepared to intervene in the event of a problem. In fact, it was an exercise in would later be derided as “boring holes in the sky’’.

At 11:11:48 GMT on 22 October the command module splashed in the Atlantic 1.9 nautical miles from the target point. It initially assumed an apex-down attitude, but was soon turned apex-up by the inflatable bags on its nose. The astronauts were retrieved by helicopter and arrived on USS Essex an hour later.

The Apollo 7 mission was successful in every respect, with the service propulsion system firing perfectly eight times. Indeed, afterwards Schirra described the flight as a “101 per cent success’’. In combination with previous missions and ground tests, it certified the CSM for use in Earth orbit and for tests in the cislunar and lunar orbital environments.


On 7 November 1968 George Mueller declared that AS-503 was fit for a mission to the Moon. On 11 November Sam Phillips recommended to the Manned Space Flight Management Council that Apollo 8 enter lunar orbit. Later that day, Mueller told Thomas Paine that he had discussed the mission with the Science and Technology Advisory Committee and with the President’s Science Advisory Committee, both of which had endorsed the proposal, and he recommended that it should be undertaken. After speaking to Frank Borman by telephone, who confirmed his willingness to fly the mission, Paine gave the formal go ahead and told Phillips to make the necessary arrangements. The next day, NASA announced that Apollo 8 would be launched on 21 December and attempt a lunar orbital mission. Earlier in the year, Michael Collins had withdrawn from the crew to undergo a surgical procedure, and had been replaced by his backup, James Lovell.

Tom Stafford, John Young and Gene Cernan were announced on 13 November as the prime crew of Apollo 10, backed up by Gordon Cooper, Donn Eisele and Edgar Mitchell. This established the precedent for a crew backing up one mission, skipping two, and becoming the prime crew of the mission after that. It had yet to be decided, however, whether Apollo 10 would fly the ‘F’ or the ‘G’ mission.[51]

On 9 October 1968 AS-503, complete with CSM-103 and LTA-B, was rolled out to Pad 39A. The countdown demonstration test was completed on 11 December, and the actual countdown began at 00:00 GMT on 16 December. The launch window ran from 20 to 27 December, and it had been decided to try for 21 December to enable the astronauts to inspect the ALS-1 landing site in eastern Mare Tranquillitatis soon after local sunrise.

Frank Borman, James Lovell and Bill Anders entered the spacecraft with a little under 3 hours on the clock. There were no unplanned holds, and Apollo 8 lifted off at 12:51:00 GMT on 21 December for the ‘C-prime’ mission.

The ascent was nominal and the deviations from the trajectory when the S-IVB cut off at T+ 684.98 seconds were + 1.44 ft/sec in velocity and -0.01 nautical mile in altitude, which was almost perfect. At 002:27:22, after the S-IVB and spacecraft had been thoroughly checked, Collins, serving as the CapCom in Mission Control, made the momentous call, ‘‘Apollo 8, you are ‘Go’ for TLI.’’

The 317.7-second translunar injection was started at 002:50:37.8 and produced a velocity of 35,505.4 ft/sec. The spacecraft separated 30 minutes later and the four SLA panels were jettisoned. After turning around, the spacecraft’s ability at station­keeping with the spent stage was assessed. A 1.1-ft/sec manoeuvre was performed at 003:40:01 using the reaction control system of the service module to move clear of the stage, and a 7.7-ft/sec manoeuvre at 004:45:01 increased the separation rate.

At 004:55:56.0 the S-IVB opened its hydrogen vent valve and at 005:07:55.8 it passed oxygen through the engine. At 005:25:55.8 the auxiliary propulsion system was ignited and burned to depletion. The accumulated velocity increment placed the stage on course to fly by the trailing limb of the Moon at an altitude of 681 nautical miles and pass into solar orbit. The spacecraft’s service propulsion system executed a 2.4-second, 20.4-ft/sec midcourse manoeuvre at 010:59:59.2. A 24.8-ft/sec change had been planned, but the engine delivered less thrust than expected and a correction was made at 060:59:55.9 to refine the trajectory. These burns served to calibrate the service propulsion system in advance of calculating the orbit insertion manoeuvre.

In contrast to Apollo 7, this time all three crewmen experienced nausea as a result of rapid body movement, with the symptoms lasting up to 24 hours. The first of six TV transmissions started at 031:10:36 and ran for 23 minutes 37 seconds. The wide – angle lens gave an excellent view of the inside of the spacecraft, where Lovell was preparing a meal, but the telephoto lens passed too much light and pictures of Earth were poor. After a procedure was devised to tape a filter of the still camera onto the TV camera, it produced improved pictures of Earth during a transmission starting at 055:02:45. At 055:38:40 the astronauts were alerted that they had become the first people to enter a region where the gravitational attraction of another body exceeded that of Earth. The spacecraft had been slowing as it climbed up from Earth, but now it began to accelerate as it was drawn in by the Moon. However, they were not yet committed. If a reason developed not to brake into lunar orbit, then Apollo 8 would simply continue on its ‘free return’ trajectory around the back of the Moon and be ‘slingshot’ back to Earth. Although everything was going well, the translunar coast was frustrating in the sense that at no time were the crew able to see their objective owing to the spacecraft’s trajectory in relation to the positions of the Moon and the Sun.

The lunar orbit insertion manoeuvre began at 069:08:20.4 at an altitude of 75.6 nautical miles above the far-side of the Moon, and the 246.9-second burn produced an orbit ranging between 60.0 and 168.5 nautical miles with its high point above the near-side. After the post-burn checklist had been attended to, and while still passing over the far-side, the astronauts had their first opportunity to inspect the surface of the Moon up close. At 071:40:52 they gave a 12-minute TV transmission showing the passing terrain. In contrast to geologists, the astronauts described the surface in terms of ‘‘a battlefield’’, ‘‘a sandbox torn up by children’’, ‘‘a volleyball game played on a dirty beach’’, ‘‘plaster of Paris’’, or (vaguely scientifically) as ‘‘pumice’’. Bright ray craters appeared just as if they had been made by a ‘‘pickaxe striking concrete’’. The colour was varied, sometimes appearing to be black and white, yet other times displaying a distinctly brownish tan. In terms of mood, the surface was ‘‘desolate’’, ‘‘bleak’’ and ‘‘forbidding’’. A 9.6-second burn at 073:35:06.6 circularised the orbit at 60 nautical miles.

As this was the first opportunity for humans to directly observe the Moon at close range, James Sasser of the Apollo Spacecraft Project Office in Houston had served as the ‘project scientist’ for the mission. He formed an advisory team and this drew up a program of photography and visual observations for the crew to perform using a Maurer 16-mm movie camera and a Hasselblad with a 250-mm lens. In particular, the Manned Spacecraft Center wanted views of the eastern limb to assist in selecting landmarks for a lander’s navigational checks prior to the powered descent. Some of this documentation was to be overlapping vertical and oblique pictures which would enable stereoscopic analysis to determine the geographical position and elevation of each feature, but the movie camera was also to be fitted to the spacecraft’s sextant to depict the landmarks in context. In addition, some ‘scientific’ targets were marked on the flight charts as ‘targets of opportunity’ which were to be inspected if time and circumstances allowed. These were to provide either detailed coverage of specific features or broad coverage of areas which had not been adequately imaged by the Lunar Orbiters. And, of course, the ALS-1 landing site was to be inspected. Most of the scientific observing and photography was assigned to Anders, the LMP without a lunar module. Jack Schmitt, a professional geologist who was hired as an astronaut in 1965, served as the main interface between Sasser’s team and the Apollo 8 crew in training, but some briefings were provided by US Geological Survey staff. At the suggestion of Wilmot N. Hess, Director of the Science and Applications Directorate at the Manned Spacecraft Center, SasseTr’s team had set up a ‘science support’ room in Mission Control to listen to the astronauts’ commentaries and watch the TV of the lunar landscape passing below the spacecraft.

The astronauts could recognise surface features in shadows lit by Earthshine, and could see detail on sunward-facing slopes which had been ‘washed out’ in the Lunar Orbiter pictures. In fact, they could perceive detail to within 5 degrees of the ‘zero phase’ point, which is the line of sight with the Sun directly behind the observer. In planning the lunar landing the lower limit for Sun angle had been set at 6 degrees, but the astronauts could see surface detail at angles as low as 2 degrees. They were able to confirm that the upper limit of 16 degrees provided excellent definition, and their observations suggested that it might be possible to raise the limit to 20 degrees – but no higher than this. This enabled the lighting constraints for the lunar landing to be relaxed.

Of the two candidate landing sites in Mare Tranquillitatis, ALS-1 in the east was brighter; so much so, in fact, that it was debatable whether it was truly mare material or a flatfish portion of the adjacent terra. Observing it visually from an altitude of 60 nautical miles, Lovell said it reminded him of an aerial view of Pinacate in Mexico, a volcanic field which he had been shown in training.

Owing to crew fatigue, Frank Borman took the decision at 084:30 to cancel all secondary activities during the final two revolutions, to allow the crew to rest. The only tasks during this period were an alignment of the inertial guidance system and the preparations for transearth injection. But at 085:43:03 they provided the planned 27-minute TV transmission showing the Moon and Earth, and to mark the fact that it was Christmas Eve they recited the first ten verses of the Book of Genesis from the Bible prior to signing off with, ‘‘Good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you – all of you on the good Earth.’’

Radio tracking indicated that by the time Apollo 8 was ready to head for home the mascons had perturbed its initially circular orbit into one of 58.6 x 63.6 nautical miles. At 089:19:16.6, after ten revolutions of the Moon, the 203.7-second transearth injection was made on the far-side of the Moon at an altitude of 60.2 nautical miles, which was just about perfect. After returning to the Earth’s gravitational influence, the spacecraft progressively accelerated. Only one small midcourse correction was required. It was made at 104:00:00, and the 15.0-second burn by the service module reaction control system imparted a change of 4.8 ft/sec.

On shedding the service module, the command module adopted its entry attitude and at 146:46:12.8 hit the entry interface travelling at 36,221.1 ft/sec. It pursued an automatically guided profile. The ionisation bathed the interior of the cabin in a cold

An oblique view by Apollo 8 looking northwest across the eastern part of Mare Tranquillitatis. The crater in the foreground is Taruntius-F, and one of the Cauchy clefts crosses the upper part of the picture. The ALS-1 site is out of frame to the south.

blue light as bright as daylight. At 180,000 feet, as expected, the lift vector deflected the vehicle to 210,000 feet, then it resumed its downward course. It splashed into the Pacific 1.4 nautical miles from the target at 15:51:42 on 27 December. It adopted an apex-down position, but promptly righted itself. The astronauts were soon recovered and flown by helicopter to USS Yorktown.

This audacious mission, described as the “greatest voyage since Columbus”, took NASA a giant step towards achieving Kennedy’s challenge.

On 6 January 1969 Deke Slayton called Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin to his office at the Manned Spacecraft Center and told them that they would fly Apollo 11 and should assume their mission would involve a lunar landing.

On 10 January 1969 John Stevenson, Director of Mission Operations at the Office of Manned Space Flight, circulated a revised version of the tentative schedule for the year that was issued early in 1968. This called for launching the delayed ‘D’ mission on 28 February. As the ‘E’ mission had been rendered irrelevant by Apollo 8, this meant that if the ‘F’ mission flew in May and was satisfactory, it should be possible to attempt the lunar landing in July. The rationale for the ‘F’ mission was to obtain experience of operating in deep space, but after Apollo 8 the issue became whether another test in lunar orbit was required. The decision was postponed until LM-3 had been put through its paces.


Apollo 9 was to be the ‘D’ mission – a lunar module manned flight demonstration in Earth orbit. The payload for the AS-504 launch vehicle was CSM-104 and LM-3. As they were to operate independently, the spacecraft were given radio call-signs. The blue wrapping of the command module for its shipment to the Cape had given it the appearance of a sweet, so it was named ‘Gumdrop’. The arachnid-like configuration of the lunar module prompted the name ‘Spider’.

The launch was scheduled for 28 February 1969 and the countdown was begun at 03:00:00 GMT on 27 February with 28 hours on the clock, but 30 minutes into the planned 3-hour hold at T-16 hours the clock was recycled to T-42 hours in order to enable the crew of James McDivitt, David Scott and Rusty Schweickart to recover from a mild respiratory infection. The count picked up at 07:30:00 on 1 March and the vehicle lifted off from Pad 39A on time at 16:00:00 GMT on 3 March.

The ascent was nominal and at S-IVB cutoff at T+664.66 seconds the deviations were +2.86 ft/sec in velocity and -0.17 nautical mile in altitude, with the result that the initial orbit was almost perfect at 100 nautical miles. At 002:41:16.0 the S-IVB released the CSM, which moved clear, turned end over end to aim its apex at the top of the LM and moved back in. At 003:01:59.3 it docked at the first attempt, marking the first use of this apparatus. Once the tunnel between the two spacecraft had been pressurised, the crew opened the apex hatch of the command module to confirm that all the latches on the docking ring had engaged, and after lines had been connected to supply power to the dormant LM the hatch was reinstalled. On a command issued by the CSM at 004:08:09 the S-IVB released the docked combination.

Preparing the CSM-104 and LM-3 spacecraft for the Apollo 9 mission.

Apollo 9’s S-IVB with the Lunar Module ‘Spider’ exposed.

After the spacecraft was clear, the S-IVB reignited its engine at 004:45:55.5 to raise an apogee of 1,672 nautical miles. Then, after a period of coasting to allow the engine to cool down, it initiated a final burn at 006:07:19.3 to achieve a velocity of 31,620 ft/sec which would send it into solar orbit.

Meanwhile, at 005:59:01.1 a 5.2-second burn by the service propulsion system raised the spacecraft’s orbit to 111 x 128 nautical miles. Three further manoeuvres on the second day in space measured the oscillatory response of the docked vehicles to obtain data designed to improve the autopilot’s response in this configuration, and also burned off the CSM’s propellant to increase the fidelity of manoeuvres which it would later perform in Earth orbit to rehearse what a mission would do in lunar orbit.

On the third day in space, Schweickart entered the LM to check out its systems. McDivitt joined him 50 minutes later. At about 045:52, shortly after the landing gear was deployed, McDivitt advised Mission Control that Schweickart had twice been sick – this illness would have an impact on the EVA planned for later in the mission. At 046:28 the astronauts made a 5-minute TV transmission from inside the LM. The descent engine was ignited at 049:41:34.5 for a 371.5-second burn in which the autopilot controlled the attitude of the docked vehicles and the astronauts manually throttled the engine to full thrust. The LM was deactivated at 051:00. Several hours later, a service propulsion system burn achieved an almost circular orbit of 125.9 x 131.0 nautical miles in preparation for the rendezvous sequence.

The EVA plan had called for Schweickart to exit the LM’s forward hatch, transfer to the command module hatch, and then return. But owing to his bouts of nausea the spacewalk was cut back from 2 hours 15 minutes to just 39 minutes, to be made on a single daylight pass. The LM was depressurised at 072:45, and the hatch opened at 072:46. Schweickart initiated his egress at 72:59:02, feet first and face up, and was completely out by 073:07. He was wearing the Extravehicular Mobility Unit suit and Portable Life Support System backpack which astronauts were to wear on the lunar surface. A 25-foot nylon safety tether precluded him drifting away. For stability, he inserted his feet into a pair of ‘golden slippers’ on the ‘porch’ of the descent stage. Meanwhile, at 073:02:00 Scott opened the side hatch of the command module and poked his head and shoulders out to monitor Schweickart. Although the transfer to the command module hatch had been cancelled, Schweickart was able to make an abbreviated study of translation and body-attitude-control using handrails affixed to the upper part of the LM. Before ingressing, Schweickart shot 16-mm movie footage of Scott’s activities, and 70-mm Hasselblad pictures of the exterior of both vehicles. Although the EVA was brief and did not involve a period of orbital darkness, it was sufficient to certify the suit and backpack for use on the lunar surface. The LM was repressurised at 073:53, and the CSM several minutes later. After a TV transmission from the LM that started at 074:58:03 and lasted 15 minutes, it was deactivated and McDivitt and Schweickart rejoined Scott.

On the fifth flight day McDivitt and Schweickart were back in the LM by 088:55 in order to prepare that ship for a period of free flight and an active rendezvous. At 092:22 the CSM oriented the pair into the attitude required for undocking. This was attempted at 092:38, but the latches did not fully release until 092:39:36. This was to be the first time that astronauts flew a spacecraft that was incapable of returning to Earth if an emergency were to arise – they relied on Scott to rescue them. Once free, the LM pirouetted while Scott made a visual inspection. At 093:02:54 the CSM used the thrusters of its reaction control system to make a separation manoeuvre. Over the next 6.3 hours, the LM undertook a series of manoeuvres which set up and executed a rendezvous. In the process, the descent propulsion system was fired under different control regimes and with the throttle being varied, after which the descent stage was jettisoned and the rendezvous was performed by the ascent stage. Terminal phase braking began at 098:30:03, and was followed by a period of station-keeping, then formation flying to facilitate mutual photography prior to docking at 099:02:26. McDivitt and Schweickart then transferred back to the CSM. The ascent stage was jettisoned at 101:22:45.0, and half an hour later ignited its main engine and fired it to depletion to enter a 126.6 x 3,760.9-nautical mile orbit.

The remainder of the mission was less hectic, being devoted mainly to conducting multispectral photography to prepare for the Skylab space station. At 169:30:00.4 the service propulsion system was fired in a 24.9-second burn which established the conditions for a nominal de-orbit. Unfavorable weather in the planned recovery area prompted a postponement of the de-orbit by one revolution, and it was performed at 240:31:14.8. The service module was jettisoned a few minutes later. The command module flew the entry profile under the control of its primary guidance system, and splashed into the Atlantic at 17:00:54 on 13 March about 2.7 nautical miles from the target. It settled in the ideal apex-up flotation attitude, and within an hour the crew were onboard USS Guadalcanal.


With Apollo 9 having successfully tested the LM in Earth orbit, the next issue was whether to fly the ‘F’ mission or to push on and attempt the lunar landing. In fact, it would be impossible for LM-4 to attempt the ‘G’ mission, as the software to conduct the powered descent was still under development. Furthermore, owing to propellant restrictions in the ascent stage of this somewhat overweight LM it would be unable to lift off and rendezvous. Tom Stafford, the Apollo 10 commander, argued against his crew waiting for LM-5 to become available. ‘‘There are too many ‘unknowns’ up there,’’ he noted. ‘‘We can’t get rid of the risk element for the men who will land on the Moon but we can minimise it; our job is to find out everything we can in order that only a small amount of ‘unknown’ is left.’’

On 24 March 1969 NASA stated that Apollo 10 would fly the ‘F’ mission. The original idea had called for the LM merely to undock, enter a slightly different orbit, rendezvous and redock, but in December 1968 the Mission Planning and Analysis Division at the Manned Spacecraft Center had urged putting the descent propulsion system through a high-fidelity rehearsal in which the LM would lower its perilune sufficiently to test the ability of the landing radar to detect and lock onto the surface. Howard Tindall also proposed that the LM should initiate the powered descent and then execute an early abort by ‘fire in the hole’ staging, but his colleagues convinced him that this would be too adventurous. One aspect of the decision to go ahead with the ‘F’ mission was to evaluate the tracking and communications of two vehicles in lunar orbit. In essence, it had been decided to exploit the fortuitous relaxation in schedule pressure and improve on Apollo 8 by performing a rehearsal to the point at which a later LM would initiate its powered descent.

The finally agreed plan called for the LM to separate from the CSM in the circular lunar parking orbit, enter an elliptical orbit having a perilune of about 50,000 feet located just east of the prime landing site, execute a low pass and then jettison the descent stage to make the rendezvous.

In April 1969 the site selectors met to decide the prime target for the first Apollo landing. The photographs of ALS-1 taken by Apollo 8 indicated the presence of a smooth blanket of light-toned material that softened or masked the landscape, and a study of the craters showed that the regolith was quite thick, which in turn implied a considerable age. The fact that the site was atypical of the maria made it unattractive for dating the maria, so it was rejected. This left ALS-2 in the southwestern part of Mare Tranquillitatis as the prime target. In early May, Jack Schmitt put it to Tom Stafford that the launch of Apollo 10 be slipped 24 hours from the proposed date so that the low-perilune pass over ALS-2 could be made in illumination matching that of a mission attempting to land there. This would enable high-resolution pictures to be taken of the site and the landmarks on the approach route. Stafford was receptive. Schmitt approached George Low, who asked Chris Kraft, who sought the advice of the flight control specialists – there were issues in favour and against. When the case was put to Sam Phillips he rescheduled the launch.

AS-505 had been installed on Pad 39B on 11 March, and Apollo 10 lifted off on schedule at 16:49:00 GMT on 18 May 1969 with Tom Stafford, John Young and Gene Cernan.

When the S-IVB cutoff at T + 703.76 seconds, the deviations were -0.23 ft/sec in velocity and -0.08 nautical miles in altitude. After translunar injection, CSM-106 ‘Charlie Brown’ separated, turned around and docked with LM-4 ‘Snoopy’, then the pair were released by the stage. The S-IVB then used propulsive venting to adopt a path that would fly past the Moon and enter solar orbit. At 026:32:56.8 the service propulsion system made a 49.2-ft/sec burn to match a July lunar landing trajectory. At 075:55:54.0 the spacecraft entered an initial lunar orbit of 60.2 x 170.0 nautical miles. Two revolutions later, this was refined to 59.2 x 61.0 nautical miles. During a 30-minute colour TV transmission the astronauts showed off the lunar surface. They reported the colour of the surface to be less grey than was described by Apollo 8. In particular, Mare Serenitatis appeared ‘‘tan’’, whereas Mare Tranquillitatis appeared ‘‘dark brown’’.

After undocking at 098:29:20, the vehicles took up station 30 feet apart while Young inspected the LM, and then the CSM moved off. A 27.4-second burn by the descent propulsion system at 099:46:01.6 placed the LM into a descent orbit with its perilune 15 degrees east of ALS-2. The landing radar was tested while passing over that site at an altitude of 47,400 feet an hour later. The pictures taken were of greater resolution than those transmitted by the Lunar Orbiters. Unfortunately, the 16-mm

This oblique view looking northwest across the crater Maskelyne was taken by the Apollo 10 Lunar Module ‘Snoopy’ as it flew low over Mare Tranquillitatis towards the ALS-2 target.

movie camera failed. A descent propulsion system burn at 100:58:25.9 put the LM into an orbit of 12.1 x 190.1 nautical miles to arrange a ‘lead angle’ equivalent to that which would occur at cutoff of an ascent from the lunar surface. At 102:44:49, during preparations to start the rendezvous with the CSM, the LM started to wallow off slowly in yaw and then stopped, and several seconds later it initiated a rapid roll accompanied by small pitch and yaw rates. Subsequent analysis revealed that this anomalous motion was due to human error. The control mode of the abort guidance system had inadvertently been returned to AUTO instead of the Attitude HOLD mode for staging. In AUTO, the abort guidance system steered the LM to enable the rendezvous radar to acquire the CSM, which at this point was not in accordance with the plan. The required attitude was re-established by the commander taking manual control. The descent stage was jettisoned at 102:45:16.9, and 10 minutes later an ascent propulsion system burn achieved an orbit of 11.0×46.5 nautical miles. This matched the insertion orbit for a mission returning from the surface. The LM had the active role in the rendezvous, and docked at 106:22:02. Two hours later the ascent stage was jettisoned, and during the next revolution the ascent propulsion system was fired to depletion in order to place the vehicle into solar orbit.

At 137:39:13.7, after 31 lunar revolutions, the CSM made the transearth injection. The aim was so accurate that it required only a 2.2-ft/sec refinement 3 hours prior to shedding the service module to centre the trajectory in the ‘corridor’ for atmospheric entry. The capsule splashed into the Pacific 1.3 nautical miles off target at 16:52:23 on 26 May and adopted the apex-up flotation attitude. The astronauts were aboard USS Princeton within the hour.

While Apollo 10 was in transit to the Moon, AS-506 was rolled out to Pad 39A in preparation for the Apollo 11 mission. After the pictures taken during the low pass over ALS-2 were examined, it was confirmed as the prime site for Apollo 11. ALS-3 in Sinus Medii was 2 day’s terminator travel westward and would be the backup. If the launch had to be delayed beyond the date for ALS-3, then the target would be ALS-5 in Oceanus Procellarum. In the post-flight debriefing, Tom Stafford pointed out that although the ALS-2 aim point was acceptable, the western end of the ellipse was much rougher. He advised Neil Armstrong that if he were to find himself at the far end of the ellipse and did not have the hover time to manoeuvre among the small craters and boulders to select a spot on which to land, then he would have to ‘‘shove off” – by which Stafford meant abort.


A week before Apollo 11 was due to launch, people began to congregate at the Cape communities of Titusville, Cocoa Beach, Satellite Beach and Melbourne. They came from all around the world in order to be able to tell their grandchildren they were present when men set off to try to land on the Moon. By 15 July hotels and motels allowed late-comers to install camp beds in lounges and lobbies, but most people spent the night on the beaches and by the roadside, generating the worst congestion

in Florida’s history. With the notable exception of alarm clocks, which rapidly sold out, shops were able to supply the hoards. As it was to be a dawn launch, the parties ran through the night.

When AS-506 lifted off at 09:32:00 local time on 16 July on a mission to accept President Kennedy’s challenge of landing a man on the Moon before the decade was out, it was estimated that there were about a million people present and 1,000 times as many watching on ‘live’ television.

No-one could be certain that the objective would be achieved, but the way had certainly been well paved.

[1] He did not infer from the absence of detail in the shadows that the Moon was airless, nor did he suggest the presence of open water.

[2] In fact, one of the few names introduced by van Langren to have survived is Langrenus, by which he honoured his own family.

[3] Selene was the Greek moon-goddess.

[4] Like Herschel and Schroter, von Gruithuisen believed the Moon to be inhabited, and after using a small telescope he reported in 1824 his discovery of a city in the equatorial zone near the meridian; but this was later shown to be merely a group of shallow ridges that were visible only when the Sun was low on the local horizon.

[5] For over half a century, geologists had argued about how the Coon Butte crater formed – and this was for a structure that was accessible to in-situ examination. Could there be any hope of resolving the issue of the lunar craters, which could only be peered at from afar!?

[6] On transfer to NASA, the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory became the Langley Research Center, the Ames Aeronautical Laboratory became the Ames Research Center, the Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory became the Lewis Research Center and the High-Speed Flight Station became the Flight Research Center.

[7] On 3 December 1958 Eisenhower ordered that JPL be transferred to NASA. This took effect on 1 January 1959, although only under contract, since the facility was owned by Caltech, which NASA paid. In September 1959 the Pentagon voluntarily yielded the Army Ballistic Missile Agency since the military had decided it did not require the Saturn launch vehicle; it would develop the Titan III instead. On 21 October 1959 NASA announced that it was to gain von Braun’s rocket team. On 1 July 1960 the Army Ballistic Missile Agency became the Marshall Space Flight Center.

[8] Physicists James van Allen, Homer Newell, Charles Sonett and Lloyd Berkner were notable early members of the ‘sky science’ community.

[9] Colloquia were held quarterly at different venues on the West Coast through to May 1963.

[10] As would later be realised, Mare Moscoviense fills the floor of a 300-km-diameter crater and Tsiolkovsky covers a portion of the floor of a crater which has a prominent central peak.

[11] The name Ranger set a trend for lunar projects with the names Surveyor and Prospector; in contrast to Mariner for planetary missions – that is ‘land’ names as against ‘sea’ names.

[12] Later, launch operations would be made a separate field centre.

[13] In early 1962 the entire NASA launch organisation was restructured.

[14] The Soviet spacecraft fell silent on 27 February 1961, at a distance of 2З million km from Earth. A launch on 4 February had stranded a similar spacecraft in parking orbit, but its role was disguised by naming it Sputnik 7.

[15] Surface science was only one of the objectives; there were the investigations to be made during the terminal approach, and achieving these would mark an acceptable compromise on the first mission.

[16] They were Lieutenant Commander Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr, Lieutenant Malcolm Scott Carpenter and Lieutenant Commander Walter Marty Schirra Jr from the Navy; Lieutenant Colonel John Herschel Glenn Jr from the Marines; and Captain Virgil Ivan ‘Gus’ Grissom, Captain Donald Kent ‘Deke’ Slayton and Captain Leroy Gordon Cooper Jr from the Air Force.

[17] This reasoning would resurface when John F. Kennedy asked for a worthy challenge.

[18] In a reorganisation on 8 December 1959, the Office of Space Flight Development had become the Office of Space Flight Programs.

[19] In fact, NASA could have launched Shepard several weeks ahead of Gagarin’s flight. If this had been done, Kennedy may well not have issued the challenge of landing a man on the Moon before the decade was out. The fact that Shepard’s flight had been only suborbital whereas Gagarin’s was orbital, would probably not have mattered, since the world’s first ‘spaceman’ would have been an American. The fact that America ‘lost’ both the first satellite and the first man into space could be said to be directly responsible for the race to the Moon. It serves to illustrate that history is not an irresistible tide, it can be extremely sensitive to the outcome of singular events.

[20] Earth imparts a gravitational acceleration of 32.2 ft/sec2.

[21] Newell also wished to maximise the amount of science on manned flights in Earth orbit.

[22] Despite Gold’s assertion that the dust would react only slowly upon being loaded, reporters would remain fascinated by the possibility that a lander would rapidly become submerged by it!

[23] The crater made by Ranger 8 was photographed by Lunar Orbiter 2, and found to be about 13.5 metres in diameter with a mound at its centre.

[24] The converter was installed at JPL, not at Goldstone.

[25] The crater made by Ranger 9 was photographed by Apollo 16 in 1972. At 14 metres in diameter, it was similar to that of its predecessor.

[26] The delay in the Centaur stage was in part due to problems with the configuration of its propellant tanks, but also because the Marshall Space Flight Center was busy with the Saturn launch vehicles. In early 1962, therefore, the Centaur had been transferred to the Lewis Research Center.

[27] In the case of Lunar Orbiter, the wide-angle images would be referred to as medium (M) frames and the narrow-angle images as high-resolution (H) frames.

[28] In fact, Bimat was similar to the Polaroid process.

[29] In particularly, the Planetology Subcommittee called for the Lunar Orbiter Block II to undertake selenodesy, gamma-ray, X-ray, magnetometry, microwave and non-imaging radar studies from orbit.

[30] This was because on a direct ascent the translunar injection point was necessarily near the latitude of the launch site, and for a launch from Florida this was north of the equatorial plane on a southerly heading, which meant that by the time the spacecraft reached lunar distance it would be south of the equatorial plane.

[31] The Manned Space Flight Network was operated under the direction of the Goddard Space Flight Center in support of the Manned Spacecraft Center.

[32] In fact, stereoscopic analysis of the Lunar Orbiter pictures proved difficult due to the manner in which they were scanned in narrow strips for transmission, as this gave the impression of the surface as being corrugated.

[33] Whereas in summer the Moon reaches its ‘full’ phase south of the equator, in winter it does so north of the equator, and since for the early Surveyors the landing sites were well to the west of the lunar meridian with arrival soon after local sunrise in winter months the translunar injection had to be made from south of the Earth’s equator. The restartable Centaur facilitated this by using its first burn to achieve a parking orbit and, once south of the equator, using its second burn to head for the Moon.

[34] During a solar eclipse, when the Moon occults the Sun to terrestrial observers, the irregular profile of the lunar limb often allows light from small sections of the solar disk to be viewed during totality, giving rise to a phenomenon known as Baily’s Beads after the British astronomer Francis Baily who first noted them during an annular eclipse on 15 May 1836.

[35] The term ‘psia’ means pounds of force per square inch on an ‘absolute’ scale measured relative to zero. If a pressure gauge is calibrated to read zero in space, then at sea level on Earth it would read 14.7 psi, which is sea-level atmospheric pressure. A value specified in psia is therefore relative to vacuum, rather than a differential relative to the pressure at sea level on Earth. For large numbers, the difference is insignificant.

[36] The pictures taken by Lunar Orbiter 1 showing Earth against the lunar limb were in black – and-white.

[37] Both Apollo 15 and Apollo 17 were sent to sites imaged by Lunar Orbiter 5; although in the case of Apollo 17 the observations by Apollo 15 also contributed to the selection.

[38] In the late 1950s J. J. Gilvarry argued that the maria were once water oceans, and hosted life. He said the now-dry plains were sedimentary rock, and dark owing to the presence of organic material. He claimed the elemental abundance data from the alpha-scattering instrument matched mudstone even better than it did basalt.

[39] Although NASA was unaware of it, a gamma-ray spectrometer operated in lunar orbit by Luna 10 in 1966 had provided a rudimentary analysis of the composition of the lunar surface across a wide range of latitudes, and the results showed there to be no significant exposures of acidic rock in the highlands.

[40] The term ‘facies’ was introduced to geology in 1838 by the Swiss stratigrapher Amanz Gressly to specify a body of rock having given characteristics.

[41] They were: Lieutenant Charles ‘Pete’ Conrad Jr, Lieutenant Commander James Arthur Lovell Jr, and Lieutenant Commander John Watts Young from the Navy; Major Frank Frederick Borman II, Captain James Alton McDivitt, Captain Thomas Patten Stafford, and Captain Edward Higgins White II from the Air Force; Neil Alden Armstrong, a former naval aviator, now a civilian test pilot for NASA; and Elliot McKay See Jr, a civilian test pilot for the General Electric Company.

[42] Slayton had been grounded in 1962 owing to a heart irregularity while training for a Mercury mission.

[43] They were: Major Edwin Eugene ‘Buzz’ Aldrin Jr, Captain William Alison Anders, Captain Charles Arthur Bassett II, Captain Michael Collins, Captain Donn Fulton Eisele, Captain Theodore Cordy Freeman, and Captain David Randolph Scott from the Air Force; Lieutenant Alan LaVern Bean, Lieutenant Eugene Andrew Cernan, Lieutenant Roger Bruce Chaffee, and Lieutenant Commander Richard Francis Gordon Jr from the Navy; Captain Clifton Curtis Williams from the Marines; Ronnie Walter Cunningham, a research scientists at the RAND Corporation; and Russell Louis ‘Rusty’ Schweickart, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

[44] This name change officially took effect on 20 December 1963.

[45] On 26 October 1962 a nomenclature was introduced by which the pad abort tests were to run in sequence from PA-1; the Little Joe II flights were to start at A-001; missions using the Saturn I were to start at A-101; missions using the Saturn IB were to start at A-201; and missions using the Saturn V were to start at A-501, with the ‘A’ standing for ‘Apollo’. The ‘SA’ prefix was employed by the Marshall Space Flight Center (giving precedence to the launch vehicle) and the ‘AS’ prefix was used by the Manned Spacecraft Center (giving precedence to the spacecraft). In addition, the term ‘space vehicle’ was introduced to describe the integrated ‘launch vehicle’ and ‘spacecraft’, with the latter comprising the CSM, the LM (if present) and the SLA structure.

[46] NASA’s Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base was renamed in Dryden’s honour.

[47] On 30 March 1967 George Low suggested that the AS-201 and AS-202 test flights be assigned the designations Apollo 2 and Apollo 3 retrospectively in order to fill in the gap, but this was rejected by Mueller on 24 April. AS-203 was not included because it did not carry a spacecraft.

[48] The last two categories represented the lunar part of the Apollo Applications Program which was being promoted by George Mueller, and when this fell by the wayside the reconnaissance surveys were deleted and the main program was expanded to include ‘enhanced capability’ landings.

[49] Times in this hhh:mm:ss format are with reference to the time of launch.

[50] It is worth noting that the guidance system in the IU performed this magnificent recovery entirely on its own.

[51] CSM-101 had flown on Apollo 7, CSM-102 had been retained by North American Aviation for ground testing, CSM-103 had been assigned to the Apollo 8 ‘C-prime’ mission, CSM-104 was to fly the Apollo 9 ‘D’ mission, CSM-105 was for ground testing, and CSM-106, which was delivered to the Cape on 25 November 1968, was assigned to Apollo 10.


In 1600 William Gilbert, one of Queen Elizabeth I’s physicians and a keen natural philosopher, published the book De Magnete in which he proposed that the planets circled the Sun as a result of some attractive force – and as his great interest was the Earth’s magnetic field he suggested that this force was magnetism. In regard to the Moon, Gilbert shared Leonardo Da Vinci’s view that the bright areas were seas, and after making a sketch of the face of the Moon he assigned names to the dark areas. The drawing was not published until 1651, long after his death.

Hans Lippershey was born in Germany in 1570, but became a citizen of Flemish Zeeland in 1602 and lived in Middleberg, earning his living as a spectacle maker. He is usually credited with discovering in 1608 that using lenses in combination could provide a magnified view of a remote object, but such instruments were apparently developed several times in different places in preceding decades – the telescope was evidently a device whose time had come. On 2 October 1608 Lippershey applied to The Hague for a patent. Several weeks later so did optical instrument maker, Jacob Metius. Both applications were refused. After an account of Lippershey’s telescope was included in a widely circulated diplomatic dispatch, there was a proliferation of telescopes across Europe.


Thomas Harriot began to study the Moon telescopically in the summer of 1609 and in 1611 compiled a map based on his observations.

Thomas Harriot graduated in mathematics from Oxford in England. He tutored Sir Walter Raleigh on navigational issues, in particular the ‘longitude problem’, and on several occasions sailed with him. By 1603 Harriot was wealthy, living in London and pursuing his interest in optics. The appearance of a comet in 1607 prompted his interest in astronomy. In 1608 he obtained from Holland a crude telescope that had a magnification factor of six, and on 26 July 1609 aimed it at the Moon and sketched what he saw. After further observations, in 1611 he compiled a whole-disk map. His work was never published, and it remained unknown until discovered in 1965 by E. Strout of the Institute of the History of Science in the Soviet Union.

Galileo Galilei was born in 1564 in Pisa in Tuscany. He was a mathematician and experimentalist. In 1589 he was made professor of mathematics at the University of Pisa, but three years later took a similar position at the University of Padua. During a visit to Venice in July 1609 he heard of the invention of the telescope via a letter written to one of his friends by a French nobleman. Galileo promptly set out to make one. Whereas Lippershey had used two convex lenses, Galileo combined a convex lens with a concave one to obtain an upright image. It had a magnification factor of ten. On 25 August he displayed it to the Venetian Senate, pointing out that it would enable an inbound ship to be identified several hours earlier than would otherwise be possible – knowledge which would be commercially valuable in a city of merchants. He was rewarded with an increase in salary. In October he went to Florence to show the telescope to his former pupil, Cosimo de Medici, now Grand Duke of Florence. On returning to Padua, Galileo made one with double the magnification factor. On 30 November turned this to the Moon, and again five times over the next 18 nights as the illumination phase changed. As he had a leaning towards painting, his depictions of what he saw were more representational than technical – with the result that few of the features he drew are recognisable. He never drew a full disk to consolidate his observations. After this burst of activity, he seems to have paid little attention to the Moon – but, to be fair, he was busy making discoveries about other celestial bodies. He wrote an account of his observations in the pamphlet Sidereus Nuncius, which he dedicated to de Medici and published on 12 March 1610.

Of the ‘imperfections’ on the Moon he wrote, ‘‘We could perceive that the surface of the Moon is neither smooth nor uniform, nor accurately spherical, […] but that it is uneven, rough, replete with cavities and packed with protruding eminences, in no other wise than the Earth, which is also characterised by mountains and valleys.’’ He was particularly struck by the shadows, which appeared totally black – there was no detail evident within them. He used the shadows cast by mountains to estimate their heights.[1]

But Galileo’s most significant discovery was that Venus displays phases similar to


Representations of the Moon at two illumination phases made by Galileo Galilei in late 1609 and published in 1610.

the Moon, which was proof that this planet orbits the Sun, not Earth. Although the Church was not overly concerned about imperfections on the Moon, it was firmly of the belief that Aristotle was correct in saying that Earth was located at the centre of a system of crystal spheres. However, the phases of Venus meant that Copernicus was correct, which was a serious matter. After being hounded by the Roman Inquisition, in 1633 Galileo was obliged to publicly “curse and detest” the false opinion that the Sun held the central position. He was then placed under house arrest, and that is how he lived until his death in 1642.

Although Galileo may not have been the first to aim a telescope at the heavens, he was the first to publish, and the rapid distribution of his pamphlet prompted a great many people to obtain instruments to look for themselves.

Francesco Fontana, a Neapolitan lawyer, began to observe the Moon in 1630, and in 1646 published Novae Coelestium, Terrestriumque Rerum Observationes, featuring wood-cut engravings of two of his drawings made at different illumination phases.

Although Kepler knew that Galileo’s findings confirmed the Sun to be centrally located, he was wary of saying so explicitly. Since the Moon was evidently a world in its own right, he wrote an allegorical fantasy, Somnium, in which he related how ‘demons’ transferred his hero character to the Moon at the time of a lunar eclipse by sending him down the Earth’s shadow. The fact that the explanatory footnotes were longer than the text of the story established it to be a technical treatise disguised as a work of fiction. Even so, it was not published until 1634, four years after his death.

Jeremiah Horrocks in England observed in 1637 the dark limb of the Moon occult the stars of the Pleiades cluster, one by one. If the Moon possessed an atmosphere, the starlight would have flickered and faded as it was attenuated and refracted by the gas, but in each case the star’s disappearance was instantaneous.

In 1638 John Wilkins, an English clergyman, published Discovery of a World in

the Moone; Or a Discourse tending to prove that ’tis probable there may be another Habitable World in that Planet. He took a serious look at how a voyage to the Moon might be attempted utilising some form of ‘engine’. Wilkins was so enthusiastic that after he helped to establish the Royal Society of London in 1660 he had this petition the government to undertake such a venture with the objective of claiming the Moon for the British Empire!

The Apollo commitment


In 1958 NASA was assigned the task of exploring space for scientific purposes, but no immediate objectives were specified. The National Aeronautics and Space Act left the agency to set its own goals.

Accordingly, within days Keith Glennan established the Space Task Group at the Langley Research Center to manage Project Mercury, which was to launch a man into orbit as soon as possible. This was not exactly what President Eisenhower had had in mind, but he saw it as a one-off venture. At a packed press conference on 9 April 1959, Glennan introduced the seven military test pilots who had been chosen to be astronauts.[16]

On 25-26 May 1959 Harry J. Goett of the Ames Research Center chaired the first meeting of the Research Steering Committee on Manned Space Flight, which was to consider possible man-in-space objectives for the coming decade. These included:

• launching and operating a small orbital laboratory

• assembling a large permanent space station

• flying circumlunar and lunar orbital missions

• making a lunar landing.

George M. Low, who represented headquarters, was firmly of the view that only a manned lunar landing provided a reasonable ultimate objective – it was an ‘end’, not just an intermediate step along a path. Whilst less demanding, the alternatives were not as definitive – either a man landed on the Moon or he did not; there was no way

to redefine it as something simpler and assert this to be equivalent.[17] It was therefore decided to set the long-range goal of achieving a manned lunar landing in the 1970s. This would gave a framework in which to define a series of intermediate objectives for the 1960s.

On 5 July 1960 the House Committee on Science and Astronautics said, “NASA’s 10-year program is a good program as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough.’’ In other words, it urged NASA to accelerate its long-range plan. In the committee’s view, “A high priority program should be undertaken to place a manned expedition on the Moon in this decade. A firm plan with this goal in view should be drawn up and submitted to the Congress by NASA.’’ But it warned that this plan, “should be completely integrated with other goals, to minimise total costs. The modular concept deserves close study. Particular attention should be paid immediately to long lead­time phases of such a program.’’

Eisenhower responded by asking his science advisor, James R. Killian, whether a manned lunar landing represented a scientific venture which could be justified in the same manner as launching a satellite for the International Geophysical Year. Killian convened a meeting of scientists, and their report, written by Donald F. Hornig of Princeton University, was dismissive: “At the present time, man-in-space cannot be justified on purely scientific grounds.’’ The rationale for sending men to the Moon seemed to be “emotional compulsion and national aspirations’’. Hence Eisenhower refused funding for manned space flight beyond Project Mercury, and in particular the proposal for a three-man Apollo spacecraft. He had no problem with the agency using the new Saturn booster to launch heavy satellites, but he withdrew funding for the upper stages intended to enable this to launch a manned spacecraft. Nevertheless, on 12-13 September the Space Task Group held a briefing for potential bidders to develop the Apollo spacecraft with the Moon as the ultimate objective, and released the formal request for proposals. On 17 October, Low told Abe Silverstein, Director of the Office of Space Flight Programs, that he was going to set up a committee to study the circumlunar objective in greater detail, to ensure that the Apollo spacecraft would be capable of supporting a landing mission.[18] On 25 October NASA issued contracts to three companies to provide feasibility studies for the Apollo spacecraft.

The national election of November 1960 was won by John F. Kennedy. He was inaugurated on 20 January 1961. In giving his final budget speech prior to leaving office, Eisenhower said on 18 January 1961 that Congress would have to determine “whether there are any vital scientific reasons for extending manned space flight beyond Mercury’’. In a campaign statement, Kennedy had said: “We’re in a strategic space race with the Russians, and we are losing. If a man orbits Earth this year, his name will be Ivan. If the Soviets control space they can control the Earth, as in past centuries the nation that controlled the seas has dominated the continents. We

cannot afford to run second in this vital race. To insure peace and freedom we must be first. Space is our great New Frontier.” The contrast with Eisenhower’s view was stark. Kennedy also had an appreciation of national prestige, which in the Cold War meant a comparison with the achievements of the Soviet Union. The issue of prestige had been dismissed by Eisenhower.

During the transitional period, Kennedy assigned a number of task forces to draw up policy recommendations. The Committee on Space was chaired by Jerome B. Wiesner, who served on the President’s Science Advisory Committee during James Killian’s chairmanship and was to become Kennedy’s Special Assistant for Science and Technology. The Committee on Space in turn set up the Panel on Man-in-Space, composed largely of scientists, and its report on 18 November I960 criticised the program envisaged by NASA.4 Although it agreed the need for large launch vehicles and urged an emphasis on space science and applications, it criticised “the popular belief that man in space is the most important aim of our non-military space effort’’. Wiesner recommended that Project Mercury be ended as soon as it had achieved its objective of placing a man in orbit, and that there should be no follow-on. However, Kennedy had made Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson chairman of the National Aeronautics and Space Council, and Johnson was in favour of expanding the space program.

And when the Space Science Board of the National Academy of Sciences issued a position paper on Man’s Role in the National Space Program on 27 March 1961 it said, “scientific exploration of the Moon and planets should be clearly stated as the ultimate objective of the US space program for the foreseeable future. This objective should be promptly adopted as the official goal of the United States space program and clearly announced, discussed and supported.’’ It also advised that whilst it was “not now possible to decide whether man will be able to accompany expeditions to the Moon and planets’’, NASA should proceed with its planning “on the premise that man will be included’’. Taking the broader view, it said that such exploration would be “potentially the greatest inspirational venture of the century and one in which the entire world can share; inherent here are great and fundamental philosophical and spiritual values which find a response in man’s questing spirit’’. Clearly this national scientific body, established to advise NASA on policy, was taking a much broader view than the sky scientists involved in space research at that time.


Having achieved the first delivery of a scientific capsule to the lunar surface, the Soviets moved on to attempt to be first to put a satellite into orbit around the Moon. Luna 10 was launched at 10:47 GMT on 31 March 1966. After cruising in parking orbit, it set off for the Moon. It was the same type of bus as Luna 9, but was ferrying an instrument capsule instead of the landing capsule. The midcourse manoeuvre on 1 April refined the trajectory to aim for the point in space at which the 850-m/s orbit insertion burn would be made. When 8,000 km out, it oriented itself for braking. The burn was initiated at 18:44 on 3 April, and slowed the spacecraft sufficiently for it to enter a 350 x 1,017-km orbit with a period of 178 minutes, in a plane inclined at 72 degrees to the lunar equator. The fact that the change in velocity to enter orbit was considerably less than that to land meant that propellant could be traded in favour of an increase in the payload to 245 kg. Shortly after entering orbit the bus released the 1.5-metre-long capsule containing a micrometeoroid detector, radiation detectors, an infrared sensor to measure the heat flux from the Moon, a gamma – ray spectrometer to detect radioactive isotopes, and a magnetometer to follow up the measurements by the early flyby probes. The mission ended when the battery expired on 30 May, after 56 days during which the capsule made 460 revolutions.


In lunar orbit


The gamma-ray spectrometer was similar to that of the Ranger Block II, but more useful by virtue of being placed into orbit to survey a wide area. The instrument was a scintillation spectrometer with a resolution of 32 channels within the energy range 0.3-3.0 MeV. The surface resolution was rudimentary. The data was consistent with the proposition that the maria were basaltic, but was inconclusive. About the only positive conclusion was there were no large surface exposures of acidic rock such as granite. The question for the ‘hot Moon’ hypothesis advocated by Gerard Kuiper, was why the process which produced ‘continental’ material on Earth had seemingly not done so on the Moon. The mystery was the composition of the highland material. If a global magnetic field existed, then it was weaker than 1/100,000th that of Earth. Radio occultations on crossing the limb showed no hint of the Moon having even a tenuous envelope of gas. Intriguingly, radio tracking revealed the gravitational field to be uneven.


In view of the reason for his predecessor’s resignation, George Mueller ordered a review of Apollo, and this confirmed the project to be in trouble. On 29 October 1963 Mueller informed the Manned Space Flight Management Council that the only way to recover time would be to reduce the number of development flights. The plan drawn up by the Marshall Space Flight Center in March 1962 envisaged a series of launches of the Saturn V in which the stages were tested in sequence – with only the first stage being ‘live’ on the first test scheduled for late 1965. The aim was to ‘man rate’ this vehicle by the summer of 1967, then use it to launch at least six manned missions in Earth and lunar orbit prior to attempting a lunar landing in late 1968 or early 1969. Mueller proposed to reduce this research and development phase by ‘all up’ testing in which each launch would use only ‘live’ stages, modules, systems and spacecraft. Wernher von Braun and Robert Gilruth objected, but Mueller had the support of James Webb.

In addition, a recent study by Bellcomm had recommended reassigning the early tests of the Apollo Block I spacecraft from the Saturn I to the Saturn IB, and so on 30 October Mueller cancelled the four manned test flights with the Saturn I that had been set for 1965. The development of the Saturn IB for manned missions would be accelerated and the ‘all up’ testing strategy employed in this case too. After coming to terms with this, Gilruth asked von Braun whether the Saturn IB could lift both the CSM and LEM, and was advised that it would be feasible only if their weights were controlled. At the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico on 7 November the Apollo launch escape system successfully performed its first ‘pad abort’ test. On 18 November 1963 Mueller directed that if the LEM was not ready in time, the early Saturn IB flights would fly without it. But it must be phased into the test program as quickly as possible. Furthermore, Mueller directed that two successful development flights for each of the Saturn IB and Saturn V would serve to ‘man rate’ them. The schedule that he issued on 31 December 1963 listed the first Saturn IB test in early 1966 and the first manned mission later that year. The first Saturn V test was to be in the first quarter of 1967, with the first manned flight (hopefully on the third launch) later that year. Mueller then established the Apollo Program Office with himself as Director, and hired Samuel C. Phillips, who had managed the development of the Air Force’s Minuteman missile, as Deputy Director.

On 17 September 1962 NASA had announced the nine men of its second intake of astronauts.1 At the same time, Deke Slayton was appointed Coordinator of Astronaut Activities, reporting to Robert Gilruth.[41] [42] In addition to the administrative tasks of the Astronaut Office, which Slayton managed in the manner of a military unit, he was responsible for making flight crew assignments. On 18 October 1963 the fourteen men of the third astronaut group were announced.[43] By now James Elms was Deputy Director of the Manned Spacecraft Center, and on 5 November 1963 Gilruth inserted Assistant Directors under Elms in order to strengthen the local management of flight operations: Chris Kraft was redesignated as Assistant Director for Flight Operations, Deke Slayton as Assistant Director for Flight Crew Operations and Maxime Faget as Assistant Director for Engineering and Development. In addition, Merritt Preston was assigned to manage Manned Spacecraft Center operations in Florida. However, on 17 January 1964 Elms resigned, and two days later George Low was reassigned from headquarters to replace him.

President Kennedy flew to Cape Canaveral on 16 November 1963 to inspect the ‘moonport’ which NASA was beginning to construct on nearby Merritt Island. He was shown models to illustrate the enormous size of the Saturn V. On 22 November he was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, and later that day Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as his successor. In a TV address on 28 November Johnson directed that Cape Canaveral be renamed Cape Kennedy, and the next day he signed an executive order in which the Launch Operations Center was renamed the John F. Kennedy Space Center.[44]

On 15 January 1964 the Manned Spacecraft Center proposed to Apollo Spacecraft Program Manager Joseph Shea that two of the Saturn IB ‘all up’

Group 1, seated (left to right): Captain Leroy Gordon Cooper Jr, Captain Virgil Ivan ‘Gus’ Grissom, Lieutenant Malcolm Scott Carpenter, Lieutenant Commander Walter Marty Schirra Jr, Lieutenant Colonel John Herschel Glenn Jr, Lieutenant Commander Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr and Captain Donald Kent ‘Deke’ Slayton. Group 2, standing (left to right): Captain Edward Higgins White II, Captain James Alton McDivitt, Lieutenant Commander John Watts Young, Elliot McKay See Jr, Lieutenant Charles ‘Pete’ Conrad Jr, Major Frank Frederick Borman II, Neil Alden Armstrong, Captain Thomas Patten Stafford and Lieutenant Commander James Arthur Lovell Jr.

Group 3, seated (left to right): Major Edwin Eugene ‘Buzz’ Aldrin Jr, Captain William Alison Anders, Captain Charles Arthur Bassett II, Lieutenant Alan LaVern Bean, Lieutenant Eugene Andrew Cernan and Lieutenant Roger Bruce Chaffee; standing (left to right): Captain Michael Collins, Ronnie Walter Cunningham, Captain Donn Fulton Eisele, Captain Theodore Cordy Freeman, Lieutenant Commander Richard Francis Gordon Jr, Russell Louis ‘Rusty’ Schweickart, Captain David Randolph Scott and Captain Clifton Curtis Williams.

During a visit to Cape Canaveral on 16 November 1963 John F. Kennedy is briefed by George E. Mueller on the ‘mobile launcher’ concept for Apollo. To Kennedy’s right are (in turn) James E. Webb, Robert C. Seamans, Kurt H. Debus and George M. Low. To his left are Hugh L. Dryden, Wernher von Braun, General Leighton I. Davis and Florida Senator George A. Smathers.

development flights be used to test the heat shield of the Apollo command module, because this would enable the early tests of the Saturn V to be classified as ‘demonstration’ rather than ‘development’ for the spacecraft.[45] On 7 February Grumman was directed to provide two LEM test articles (LTA) and eleven flightworthy LEMs, the first three of which were to be capable of either manned or unmanned operation. On 23 March George Mueller ordered that if the first two unmanned CSM test flights were successful, the next mission would be a long- duration manned flight, after which there would be two tests of the LEM, the first

Table 15.1: Outline schedule for Apollo drawn up in November 1964



Launch Date


CSM-009 (unmanned)



CSM-011 (unmanned)



No spacecraft (S-IVB development flight)

Jul 1966


CSM-012 (manned)

Oct 1966


CSM-014 (manned)

Jan 1967


LEM-1 (unmanned)

Apr 1967


CSM-101 (manned) and LEM-2

Jul 1967

one unmanned and the second together with a manned CSM – so long as the Saturn IB proved capable of lifting both vehicles together. In November 1964 Joseph Shea, George Mueller and Sam Phillips drew up an outline schedule for testing Apollo hardware in advance of the introduction of the Saturn V, but it remained uncertain whether the weights of the two spacecraft were sufficiently constrained for them to be lifted together by a Saturn IB for the joint mission. On 16 December Shea directed that the Block I manned missions must use low orbits from which the spacecraft could use its reaction control system thrusters to de-orbit itself in the event of the failure of the service propulsion system; and in the event of these too failing, the orbit must decay naturally and result in re-entry within an acceptable duration.6

On 31 August 1964 Lead Flight Director Chris Kraft appointed John D. Hodge, Eugene F. Kranz and Glynn S. Lunney to alternate in round-the-clock flight operations. On 24 December Everett E. Christensen was made Director of Mission Operations, a position which effectively superseded Deputy Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight Operations – vacant since the resignation of Walter Williams in April. At the same time, two posts of Mission Director were also created, with the intention that the appointees would run alternate missions. In addition, activities at the Cape were consolidated, with Kurt H. Debus being made Director of Launch Operations and Merritt Preston, who had been managing the Manned Spacecraft Center’s activities at the Cape, becoming his Deputy.

Joseph Shea, Chris Kraft and Deke Slayton were briefed on 18 January 1965 by the Mission Planning and Analysis Division of the Manned Spacecraft Center about the Saturn IB and early Saturn V flights. On 21 January, in response to a question by Sam Phillips, Shea said the current estimate was that the Saturn IB would be able to insert 35,500 pounds into a circular orbit at 105 nautical miles. This, however, was less than the combined ‘control weights’ of the CSM and LEM by 870 pounds, and both vehicles were currently above their control weights. Shea argued that in view of the difficulty in constraining the weights, the best solution would be to find a way of increasing the launcher’s capacity by 1,000 pounds. In fact, the Saturn IB had a

This precaution was reputedly a headquarters response to the situation depicted by Martin Caidin in his recent novel Marooned.

‘control payload’ which was the specified minimum mass that it was to be capable of placing into the reference orbit, and a ‘design goal’ which exceeded this. On 23 February Phillips told Shea that the Marshall Space Flight Center would endeavour to increase the payload by 1,000 pounds. The development version of the cluster of eight H-1 engines had yielded 1.3 million pounds of thrust, but the fifth flight of the Saturn I had introduced an upgraded cluster that finally achieved its specification of 1.5 million pounds of thrust. In August 1963 Rocketdyne had proposed an upgrade for 1.6 million pounds of thrust, and on 8 November of that year NASA had ordered this be done. By 23 April 1965 the improved engine had completed its qualification testing. On 12 May Huntsville reported that it would be possible to uprate the engine by an additional 5,000 pounds of thrust, to raise the total to 1.64 million pounds. But the rocket engineers were fighting a losing battle, as by then both spacecraft had put on even more weight.

On 13 January 1965 Shea had established the Configuration Control Board, with himself in the chair. This was to rule on all proposals for engineering changes to the spacecraft. On 10 May he faced a dilemma: the ‘all up’ testing regime required that all spacecraft incorporate a full set of subsystems, but it had been proposed that the landing radars be omitted from LEM-1 and LEM-2 on the basis that a radar would serve no function on an Earth orbital mission. Omitting the radar on these early test flights would save money and assist in the effort to trim the weight of the vehicle at this critical juncture, but doing so would establish the precedent for a series of one – of-a-kind spacecraft, each tailored to achieving specific development objectives and with none demonstrating all of the systems in conjunction. Furthermore, by relieving the pressure on the effort to trim weight in the short term, such compromises might jeopardise it in the long term. On 27 May the Manned Spacecraft Center reaffirmed that LEM-1 must test the radar. But on 25 June ASPO Assistant Manager Harry L. Reynolds warned Owen E. Maynard, Chief of the Systems Engineering Division at the Manned Spacecraft Center, that it was ‘‘becoming increasingly clear that we are going to have a difficult job keeping the LEM weight below the control weight’’. On 6 July Grumman requested to be allowed to deliver the early LEMs without some subsystems installed, but Shea insisted they must all leave the factory in a fully functional condition. At that time, LEM-1 was to be delivered to the Kennedy Space Center in November 1966, with the next five vehicles following in 1967, but it was becoming increasingly evident that this schedule would be difficult to achieve. On 13 September 1965 Shea established the Weight Control Board to enable subsystem managers to meet on a weekly basis and report progress in controlling the weights of the two spacecraft, and when appropriate to create ad hoc task forces to chase up specific issues and report back.

Meanwhile, on 17 February 1965 Shea clarified for North American Aviation the Block I schedule. CSM-009 and CSM-011 were to be configured for unmanned use and fly as AS-201 and AS-202 to test the heat shield. CSM-012 and CSM-014 were to be delivered for manned missions, but be capable of being adapted at the Cape for unmanned flight. The decision for CSM-012 would be made 6 months ahead of the scheduled launch date for AS-204, and if flown unmanned this would be done either to gain additional data on the spacecraft’s characteristics or to provide more time for

the Marshall Space Flight Center to prepare AS-203 to obtain data on the behaviour of the S-IVB stage in space. North American Aviation was told that CSM-017 and CSM-020, assigned to the early tests of the Saturn V, need not be capable of manned use. The first manned Block II would be CSM-101, which was to fly in conjunction with LEM-2. On 22 March Glynn Lunney, Chief of the Flight Dynamics Branch of the Flight Control Division in Houston, was appointed Assistant Flight Director for AS-201 and AS-202. On 25 June Carroll H. Bolender was made Deputy Director of Mission Operations at the Office of Manned Space Flight, and his first task was to plan these two preliminary missions.

On 10 August 1965 ASPO named LEM-1 to AS-206, LEM-2 to AS-207, LEM-3 to AS-503, LEM-4 to AS-504, LEM-5 to AS-505 and LEM-6 to AS-506. Of the six test articles, LTA-1 was kept by Grumman at Bethpage to resolve issues during the initial fabrication, assembly and checkout procedures, LTA-2 went to the Marshall Space Flight Center for launch vibration tests, LTA-3 and LTA-5 were to be used to assess the structural effects of engine firing, LTA-8 went to the Manned Spacecraft Center for thermal-vacuum environmental testing, and LTA-10 went to the North American Aviation factory in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for fit-checks with the SLA, which was being manufactured there. To cut costs, in July Grumman had been directed to delete LTA – 4 (intended for vibration tests), the ascent stage of LTA-5 and the two flight test articles and instead to refurbish two of the test articles for flight once their ground testing role was complete. The company said it would refurbish LTA-10 and LTA-2 in case they were needed for the first two Saturn V test flights. The first three LEMs were to incorporate development flight instrumentation so as to record the dynamic environment at launch. A key requirement was that the differences between LEM-3 and LEM-4 be minimised and that all subsequent production vehicles be identical.

On 21 October 1965 Sam Phillips slipped AS-201 to January 1966 and AS-202 to June 1966 to accommodate the revised delivery dates for CSM-009 and CSM-011, but otherwise preserved the outline schedule which had been drawn up in November 1964. On 2 December 1965 Hugh Dryden died of cancer.[46] Robert Seamans replaced him as Deputy Administrator on 21 December. He retained the duties of Associate Administrator until Homer Newell gained this post in August 1967, and was in turn superseded as Associate Administrator for Space Sciences and Applications by John E. Naugle.

Meanwhile, an operational step toward the chosen Apollo ‘mission mode’ was achieved when Gemini 6 rendezvoused with Gemini 7 on 15 December 1965. The straightforward manner in which this was done raised the prospect of undertaking the manned test of the LEM without reducing the weights of the CSM and LEM to enable the Saturn IB to lift them both together. On 28 January 1966 Sam Phillips asked ASPO to assess the impact, including the effects on ground support equipment and mission control, of a dual AS-207/208 mission as early as the scheduled date for

AS-207, which was the Saturn IB that was nominally to have sent them into orbit together. The idea was for near-simultaneous launches of AS-207 with CSM-101 and AS-208 with LEM-2 to facilitate a rendezvous and docking, at which point the mission would unfold as originally planned. On 2 February John P. Mayer, Chief of the Mission Planning and Analysis Division at the Manned Spacecraft Center, informed Chris Kraft, Assistant Director for Flight Operations, that the main constraint would be programming the Real-Time Computer Complex in Houston to plan and support such a mission – in which case the decision on whether it was to be attempted must be taken very soon. Mayer also urged that if the IBM staff who worked on the Gemini 6/7 rendezvous could be spared, they should be reassigned to help to plan the new dual mission. On 4 February John Hodge, Chief of the Flight Control Division, noted that some of the operational issues associated with near­simultaneous launches would be obviated if the interval were extended. On 24 February Mayer’s assistant, Howard W. Tindall, recommended that the CSM be launched first and the LEM follow it either 24 hours later or at a recurring daily window. On 1 March Joseph Shea endorsed the concept. On 8 March Sam Phillips directed the Manned Spacecraft Center, Marshall Space Flight Center and Kennedy Space Center to endeavour to launch the dual mission a month later than intended for AS-207 on the previous schedule.


Jacob Floris van Langren founded a business in Amsterdam in 1586 which made globes, and as Dutch explorers reported discoveries he could barely keep up with the demand for updates. In 1627 his grandson, Michel van Langren, observed the Moon and made a sketch. After moving to Madrid as Court Astronomer to King Felipe IV of Spain in 1630, the grandson convinced the King that tables listing the sunrise and sunset times of specific lunar features would enable the time at the observing site to be determined, which would in turn solve the ‘longitude problem’. The prerequisite was a map of the Moon. In 1643, having made 30 sketches, van Langren realised he had competitors, so in 1645 he issued a whole-disk map 34 cm in diameter on which he named 325 features after prominent philosophers, mathematicians, astronomers, explorers, religious figures and (recognising his sponsor) members of the Spanish royal family. However, at that time the revolt of Protestantism which would later be called the Thirty Years War was well underway, and a nomenclature drawn from Catholic Europe was sure to be contentious.[2]

In 1637 Pierre Gassendi, a mathematician in Paris, also came to the conclusion that it should be possible to use observations of the Moon to determine the time and thereby resolve the ‘longitude problem’. After he had made some drawings, he heard that Johann Hevelius, whom he had once met, was starting to make a map, and upon seeing the quality of the younger man’s sketches Gassendi stopped and handed over his own work. A city councillor in Danzig in Poland, Hevelius built an observatory on the roof of his house and installed a telescope with a 5-cm-diameter lens, a focal length of 3.6 metres and a magnification of 50 – in fact, one of the best telescopes of the time. In 1647 he published Selenographica sive Lunae Descriptio, with fine drawings and a consolidated map 30 cm in diameter.[3] He named 275 features after terrestrial landforms, including oceans, seas, bays and lakes – although he realised there were no bodies of open water. Like Galileo, Hevelius estimated the heights of the lunar peaks by their shadows, but much more accurately. Being a Protestant, his nomenclature had little in common with that of van Langren. In fact, Hevelius had presumed himself to be the first to name features, and said the task was arduous. He

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The map of the Moon published by Michel van Langren in 1645 was the first to assign names to features.


A map of the Moon published by Johann Hevelius in 1647.

honoured astronomers and scientists, including Gassendi, but not himself. However, only a dozen of his names have survived.

As a Jesuit professor of astronomy and theology at the University of Bologna, Giovanni Battista Riccioli believed implicitly in the Aristotlean system as written of by Ptolemy. In an effort to counter the growing belief that Earth travels around the Sun, he set out to write an authoritative account of astronomy. But while developing his argument he came to suspect he was wrong! He could never admit this publicly, however. In 1651 he published Almagestum Novum, with a whole-disk map of the Moon that was 28 cm in diameter and was based on observations made by his pupil, Francesco Maria Grimaldi. Although the map was little better than that by Hevelius, its historical significance was the nomenclature. This retained oceans, seas and bays for the dark areas, but renamed them for states of mind: e. g. Oceanus Procellarum and Mare Tranquillitatis. Craters were named after astronomers and philosophers, including Riccioli and Grimaldi. The despised Copernicus was assigned a crater in Oceanus Procellarum – the Ocean of Storms. To Helvelius’s frustration, soon copies of his map were in circulation relabelled with Riccioli’s nomenclature! Nearly all of the 200 names introduced by Riccioli and Grimaldi are still in use today.

Giovanni Domenico Cassini was born in 1625 in the Republic of Genoa. After a Jesuit education he was hired by the Marquis Cornelio Malvasia in Bologna, who


A map of the Moon published by Giovanni Battista Riccioli in 1651.

derived ephemerides for astrological purposes. Utilising the excellent instruments of his employer’s observatory, Cassini made observations of exceptional precision and quality, and in 1650 became professor of astronomy at the University of Bologna. In 1666 plans were initiated to establish a national observatory in Paris, and in 1669 Cassini, now with several significant discoveries to his name, was invited by King Louis XIV to become its first director; he accepted and promptly moved to France to oversee the construction of the observatory, which was finished in 1671. In 1679 he published a map of the Moon which, at 52 cm in diameter, was much larger than its predecessors. Although very accurate, so few copies were made that it did not gain the attention which it warranted.

Meanwhile, Isaac Newton at the University of Cambridge in England had made a study of gravity and, contrary to the accepted wisdom that it remained constant


A map of the Moon published by Giovanni Domenico Cassini in 1679.

with distance, realised that its strength declined with the inverse square of distance. His book Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, published in 1687, provided a basis for the laws of planetary motion that Kepler had derived empirically.

The Moon was essentially ignored for a century, then Tobius Mayer in Germany became interested in its use in relation to the ‘longitude problem’. In 1751 he gained the chair of economics and mathematics at the University of Gottingen, where, a few years later, he became superintendent of the observatory. As a skilled draughtsman, he utilised a micrometer to measure the geographical positions of the lunar features. His map was published posthumously in 1775, and although only 20 cm in diameter it was the first to include lines of latitude and longitude. It superseded the map by Hevelius (re-annotated with the nomenclature of Riccioli) which had been standard for almost 150 years, and would itself not be surpassed for half a century.


A map of the Moon by Tobius Mayer that was published posthumously in 1775.

William Herschel, who discovered the planet Uranus in 1781 and became the first president of the Royal Astronomical Society, did not devote much attention to the Moon. However, he believed it to possess an atmosphere (even though the way stars were occulted contradicted this) and active volcanoes. Although by now the idea of open water had been abandoned, Herschel was “absolutely certain” the Moon was inhabited.

Johann Hieronymus Schroter was born in 1745 in Erfurt in Germany. In 1767 he graduated in law from the University of Gottingen. In 1781 he moved to Lilienthal, near Bremen, to become chief magistrate. Having been inspired by Mayer’s map, he built an observatory alongside his house and installed a series of ever more powerful telescopes. Over a period of 30 years he made hundreds of detailed drawings of the Moon, recording individual features under different angles of illumination. In this respect, he founded modern selenography. He paid particular attention to craters and

rilles – both of which terms he introduced. His measurements of the heights of lunar peaks were better than those of his predecessors. Although an accurate observer, he was not a skilled draughtsman and utilised a ‘schematic’ style. In 1791 he published Selenotopographische Fragmente zur genauern Kenntniss der Mondflache in two volumes containing a total of 75 engravings. He did not consolidate his observations into a full – disk map, but did include an enlarged version of Mayer’s map. In 1813 the invading Napoleonic army ransacked and destroyed his observatory, and most of his unpublished work was lost. Schroter inferred the Moon to have an atmosphere, but estimated its pressure to be less than that of the best vacuum pump available at that time. Nevertheless, like Herschel, he believed the Moon to be inhabited.

Wilhelm G. Lohrmann was a surveyor in Dresden, and a skilled draughtsman. He had developed a keen interest in astronomy as a boy, and in 1821, aged 25, began to study the Moon. He set out to make a map in 25 sections on a scale at which the disk would be 95 cm in diameter. By 1824 he had released the first four sections, and by 1836 had the drawings for the remaining sections, but then his eyesight failed and he was unable to finish the editing. Nevertheless, in 1838 he published a full-disk map at 40 per cent scale.

Johann von Madler was born in 1794 and became a teacher in Berlin. One of his students, the wealthy banker Wilhelm Beer, was only a few years younger and they became friends. In 1829 Beer built an observatory at his house and bought a 95-mm – diameter refracting telescope produced by Joseph von Fraunhofer’s firm. Beer hired Madler as observer, and they measured almost 1,000 features to trigonometrically survey the Moon. Between 1834 and 1837 they published Mappa Selenographica in four parts, which together made a whole-disk map 95 cm in diameter. Owing to the recent improvement in telescopes, their map surpassed all its predecessors. In 1838 they republished the map with a dissertation in their book Der Mond. It became the definitive work on the subject, but their convincing argument for the Moon being an airless and unchanging body prompted a hiatus in observing.

While reading Schroter’s 1791 Selenotopographische Fragmente as a boy, J. F.J. Schmidt in Germany decided to study the Moon. After acting as assistant at various German observatories, in 1858 he became director of the Athens Observatory and set out to make a full-disk map with a diameter of 180 cm which would show more craters, rilles and mountains than its predecessors. In fact, for many years he was the only observer engaged in systematic lunar work! He completed the observations in 1868, having produced in excess of 1,000 sketches, measured the positions of over 4,000 points, catalogued 278 rilles and used shadow details to measure the depths of craters and the heights of mountains. When issued in 25 sections in 1874, the map specified 33,000 craters and the heights of 3,000 mountains. In 1878 he reprinted it in his book Charte der Gebirge des Mondes. Having acquired Lohrmann’s files, Schmidt had his predecessor’s map engraved at the scale originally intended, and in 1878 published it as Mondkarte in 25 Sektionen; it would have been a fine map for its time, but was now obsolete.

In 1864 the British Association established a Lunar Committee, but this achieved little. In 1876 Edmund Neville Nevill (using the surname Neison) published a book, The Moon, which included a full-disk map in 22 sections with a diameter of 60 cm. In fact, it was a reworking of Beer and Madler’s chart supplemented with a detailed description of each named feature – some 500 in all – making it a monumental work. It stimulated sufficient interest to prompt the establishment of the Selenographical Society with William Radcliffe Birt, one of the most active of British amateur lunar observers of that time, as president, and Neison as secretary. But it was disbanded in 1883 after the death of Birt in 1881 and the departure of Neison in 1882 to become the first director of the Natal Observatory in Durban in South Africa. Nevertheless, when the British Astronomical Association was established in London in 1890 the former members of the Selenographical Society set up a Lunar Section as a means of coordinating their activities. T. G. Elger, the Director of the Lunar Section, published a book entitled The Moon in 1895 to assist new observers.

By 1890 photography had matured sufficiently to facilitate surveys of the Moon. Two photographic atlases were published in 1897. Atlas Photographique de la Lune covered the whole face in many small sections using plates taken by Maurice Loewy at the Paris Observatory and text provided by his assistant Pierre Puiseux. The Lick Observatory Atlas of the Moon by Edward Singleton Holden comprised 19 sheets of reproduced photographs. After establishing a temporary astronomical outstation in Jamaica, W. H. Pickering of the Harvard College Observatory set himself the task of photographing the lunar disk in several sections at five illumination phases. When The Moon – A summary of existing knowledge of our satellite, with a complete photographic atlas was published in 1903 it was the first true atlas, because the pictures were reproduced at the same scale. Although Jamaica had particularly clear skies, Pickering’s pictures of the Moon were still blurry and so there remained scope for visual studies, particularly in the limb regions – but as professional astronomers turned their attention to the stars and even more distant objects, they left the Moon, which they regarded as a source of ‘light pollution’, to their amateur brethren.

On the nights of 12 to 15 September 1919 Francis Pease photographed the Moon while testing the new 100-inch Hooker reflector at the Mount Wilson Observatory in California. Walter Goodacre was born in 1856, lived in London, and developed an interest in astronomy as a boy. In 1910, after making thousands of observations, he compiled a whole-disk map of the Moon almost 200 cm in diameter. In 1931, by which time he had replaced T. G. Elger as Director of the Lunar Section of the British Astronomical Association, he published The Moon. It featured a map which combined fine detail obtained by visual observing in good ‘seeing’, with positional accuracy derived from the Mount Wilson photographs, but few copies were issued.

The International Astronomical Union was established in 1919 to oversee general issues, and it took responsibility for regulating lunar nomenclature.