About one month before their mission, Apollo 10 astronauts
Thomas P. Stafford, Eugene A. Cernan and John W. Young held a press conference
at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The trio described their upcoming flight as
essentially a dress rehearsal for the Moon landing, with Stafford stating that Apollo
10 will “sort out all the unknowns and actually pave the whole way for the
lunar landing mission.”
Apollo Spacecraft Program Manager George M. Low explained that
the plan for Apollo 10 was to do “everything that we did on Apollo 9—only in
Officials also announced that the Apollo 10 Command Module
may carry a color TV system in addition to the standard black-and-white
cameras. The color camera, equipped with a zoom lens, would provide live TV
broadcasts from the spacecraft during critical mission operations and give
viewers at home a glimpse of life aboard an Apollo spacecraft during a lunar
mission. Views of the Earth, as well as the lunar landscape, were also
Left: From left to
right, Apollo 10 astronauts Thomas Stafford, John Young and Eugene Cernan
participate in crew press conference at Kennedy. Right: Stafford, Young and
Cernan pose with their mission patch. Image Credits: NASA
Stafford, Cernan and Young announced the call signs they
gave their spacecraft to aid in communications with the ground, with the
Command and Service Module (CSM) dubbed “Charlie Brown” and the Lunar Module
(LM) “Snoopy” after characters in the Peanuts© comic strip by Charles M.
They went on to describe what was to come with their eight-day
mission, beginning with a very busy first day. After launching from Launch Pad
39B, the crew would make two revolutions around Earth while still attached to
the Saturn V’s S-IVB third stage. The S-IVB would then reignite, propelling
them toward the Moon. Shortly after that, they would undock Charlie Brown from
the S-IVB, turn it around and dock with Snoopy, which would be tucked away in
the top of the rocket stage for a maneuver called transposition and docking. After
jettisoning the S-IVB, the crew would coast toward the Moon for about three
days … up until the Service Propulsion System (SPS) fired to drop them into
orbit around the Moon.
Later, Stafford and Cernan would enter the LM and undock,
leaving Young alone in the CSM. Using the LM’s
Descent Propulsion System engine to lower their altitude, Stafford and Cernan would
descend to about 50,000 feet above the lunar surface and photograph the primary
landing site for Apollo 11 in the Sea of Tranquility. Snoopy would travel up to
350 miles from Charlie Brown during these maneuvers.
As the descent stage is
jettisoned, the Ascent Propulsion System engine would then fire in a simulated litfoff
from the Moon, and Stafford and Cernan would complete a rendezvous and docking
with Young in the CSM. After jettisoning the LM’s ascent stage and completing
11 more orbits around the Moon, Apollo 10 would fire up the SPS engine for the
return trip to Earth—ending with a maginificent splashdown in the Pacific
Ocean. Except for an actual descent to and touchdown on the surface, Apollo 10 would
follow all the steps of the actual Moon-landing mission.
Engineers at Kennedy completed the Flight Readiness Test between
April 7 and 10, which would ensure that all the vehicle systems were in a state
of flight readiness and functioned well with ground-support equipment. Successful
completion of the Flight Readiness Test paved the way for the Countdown Demonstration
Test in early May—a dress rehearsal of the actual countdown for the launch.
Stafford, Cernan and Young took part in an emergency egress
drill at Launch Pad 39B, including inspecting the slide wire escape mechanism
and the blast room, a concrete reinforced structure under the launch pad to be
used in case of a catastrophic emergency during fueling of the rocket or the
Left: Apollo 10
astronauts (front to back) Young, Stafford and Cernan inspect the slide wire
escape mechanism at the top of Launch Pad 39B. Right: Apollo 10 astronauts
(left to right) Young, Stafford and Cernan are briefed on escape protocols
inside the blast room beneath the launch pad. Image Credits: NASA
Left: Young in the Command
Module flight simulator. Right: Cernan (left) and Stafford in the Lunar Module flight
simulator. Image Credits: NASA
The Apollo 10 crew participated in simulations of various
phases of their mission using LM and CSM flight simulators at Kennedy. Flight
controllers in mission control at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, now Johnson
Space Center, participated in many of these simulations with the crew.
Left: The Apollo 10
backup crew (left to right) L. Gordon Cooper, Edgar Mitchell and Donn Eisele
prepare for water egress training. Right: The Apollo 10 backup crew in the life
raft. Image Credits: NASA
Apollo 10 backup crew members L. Gordon Cooper, Edgar D.
Mitchell and Donn F. Eisele completed water egress training in the Gulf of
Mexico on April 4. Using a boilerplate Apollo Command Module and tended by the motorized
vessel Retriever, the astronauts
practiced emerging from the capsule as if after splashdown. With the assistance
from divers, the crew waited for a helicopter to retrieve them as they floated
on life rafts in the ocean.
Celebrate Apollo 10 on April 25
Relive the thrills of all things Apollo on April 25. Doors to the Teague Auditorium will open at 9 a.m. as
Annette Hasbrook with the Orion Program moderates an Apollo 10 Lessons and
Legacies panel discussion featuring Apollo astronaut Gen. Thomas Stafford;
Apollo Propulsion Engineer Bernie Rosenbaum; astronaut Randy Bresnik; and Lara
Kearney, deputy Gateway Program manager. Come early and snag a great seat!
Silver Snoopy awardees, please wear your Silver Snoopy pins to
the panel so that you can be recognized.
In the Teague Auditorium lobby following the panel, there will be Gateway and
Orion exhibits, an exhibit on the connections between the Silver Snoopy Program,
the Apollo 10 Lunar Module "Snoopy" and the "Snoopy in Space" cartoons created
by Charles M. Schulz during Apollo. Also, enjoy Space Snoopy—live, human-sized and poised for photo ops. Snacks and beverages will be provided by Starport.
Later that evening on April 25, Space Center Houston will host a Thought
Leader Series with Stafford. Get your free ticket to that event, which starts at
7 p.m., here.
John Uri, Johnson Space Center
Schematic illustration of the Apollo 10 mission. (Click to expand.)
A mission patch for Snoopy, the first Beagle in space.