The Apollo Program
The Apollo program placed humans on the moon for the first time. The effort famously began with President John F. Kennedy's speech on May 25, 1961, announcing the goal of sending astronauts to the moon.
The rocket technology necessary for such a feat underwent testing during 1961-1966. In 1966, the unmanned flights of Apollo-Saturn AS-201, AS-203 and AS-202 (in order of launch) showed the readiness of the Saturn IB launch vehicle to carry astronauts into space.
Apollo 1 — Disaster on the Pad
From left, Apollo 1 astronauts Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee pose in front of their Saturn 1 launch vehicle at Launch Complex 34 at the Kennedy Space Center.
The astronauts were in training for AS-204, the first manned test of the Apollo Command/Service Module. However, on January 27, 1967, a fire on the launch pad claimed the lives of the three astronauts during a preflight test. NASA retroactively named the unflown mission Apollo 1, as the agency redesigned the Apollo command module and returned to unmanned test flights.
Initial Unmanned Test Flights
Prior to the Apollo 1 disaster, three unmanned test flights of Apollo-Saturn rockets took place. AS-201 (seen here), AS-203 and AS-202 missions took place in 1966, testing the Saturn 1B launch vehicle. They set the stage for AS-204, planned to have been the first manned mission, but which ended with fire killing three astronauts during training. That mission was later renamed Apollo 1. Apollo 4 then continued the unmanned test flights as NASA redesigned the command module.
Apollo 4 — "All-Up" Test
The giant Saturn V rocket for the Apollo 4 mission at the Kennedy Space Center's launch complex 39A stands at the dawn of November 8, 1967, during the pre-launch alert. The uncrewed Apollo 4 (AS-501) mission was the first "all-up" test of the three-stage Saturn V rocket, meaning all stages were functioning. (The seemingly confusing Apollo 4 designation followed from the first three unmanned launches, AS-201, AS-203 and AS-202.)
Apollo 5 — The Lunar Module Checks Out
AS-204, the fourth Saturn IB launch vehicle, sits on the launch pad before its January 22, 1968 liftoff from Cape Canaveral, Florida of the unmanned Apollo 5 mission. The mission successfully tested the Lunar Module in a space environment
Apollo 6 — The Final Unmanned Test
The Apollo 6 mission provided the final test of the Saturn V launch vehicle and Apollo spacecraft for use in crewed Apollo missions. It launched on April 4, 1968, but was overshadowed by the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. the same day.
Apollo 7 — First Manned Apollo Mission
Walter Schirra, Apollo 7 commander, sports nine days of space beard while looking out the rendezvous window during the Earth orbital mission. Apollo 7 was also crewed by Donn Eisele and Walter Cunningham. The mission launched on October 11, 1968, and was an engineering flight to test space vehicle and mission support facilities performance during a manned mission.
Apollo 8 — Lunar Orbit and Return
This picture of the Earth from near the moon was taken by Apollo 8 astronauts in December 1968. Apollo 8 launched from Cape Kennedy on Dec. 21, 1968, carrying astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell Jr. and William Anders. The three astronauts gained the distinction of seeing the moon's far side for the first time in human history.
Apollo 9 — First Crewed Lunar Module Test
Astronaut Russell Schweickart, lunar module pilot, stands on the module's deck during his spacewalk on the fourth day of the Apollo 9 mission. This photograph was taken from inside the lunar module "Spider" by mission commander James McDivitt. Apollo 9 was the first manned flight of the command/service module along with the lunar module. The mission's three-person crew, which also included command module pilot Dave Scott, tested several aspects critical to landing on the moon including the lunar module's engines, backpack life support systems, navigation systems and docking maneuvers. The mission was the second manned launch of a Saturn V rocket and was the third manned mission of the Apollo Program. After launching on March 3, 1969, the crew spent 10 days in low Earth orbit.
Apollo 10 — Lunar Orbit and Return
The Apollo 10 Command and Service Modules (CSM) are photographed from the Lunar Module (LM) after CSM/LM separation in lunar orbit. Apollo 10 launched from Cape Kennedy on May 18, 1969 with astronauts Thomas Stafford, John Young and Eugene Cernan. The mission served as a "dress rehearsal" for the actual moon landing.
Apollo 11 — First Men on the Moon
Buzz Aldrin stands near the leg of the Lunar Module (LM) "Eagle" during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity (EVA). Apollo 11 launched from Cape Kennedy on July 16, 1969, carrying Armstrong, Aldrin, and Command Module Pilot Michael Collins. Armstrong and Aldrin forever changed the course of history by walking on the face of the moon.