Interesting Apollo 10 Facts For The Future Astronauts | Kidadl


Interesting Apollo 10 Facts For The Future Astronauts

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The Apollo 10 mission was the 10th mission in the Apollo program, which aimed to land humans on the surface of the moon and safely bring them back to Earth.

It was the final mission before Apollo 11 - which actually took humans to the moon. The Apollo 10 mission was simple a stage-to-stage recreation of its successor and followed every stage up until the actual lunar landing.

The main crew on board consisted of three veteran pilots, one of which stayed aboard the command module 'Charlie Brown' once the craft entered lunar orbit, while the other two practiced the descent of the Lunar module 'Snoopy' until the final landing stage. The code names given to the ships were based on the comic strip 'Peanuts' by Charles M. Schulz, which led to Snoopy the dog and Charlie Brown then becoming mascots for the mission. The actual mission itself was completed with the lunar module halting a few miles above the moon's surface, with the orders being to return to Earth after this point. To learn more about the amazing Apollo 10 mission, read on!

If you enjoy this article, do check out our pages on Apollo 12 facts and Apollo 18 facts.

Apollo 10 mission

The Apollo 10 mission was definitely one to go in the books, as it was the last mission of the Apollo program before the famous Apollo 11 in which man first set foot on the moon. It was the fourth manned spaceflight and set the record for the highest speed attained by a crew at 24,791 mph (39,897 kph).

Apollo 11 would have not been possible without Apollo 10, which was an almost accurate dress rehearsal for the actual moon landing mission, almost down to the minute. Though the modules for the Apollo 10 were not properly equipped to actually make a lunar landing, it was still given the go-ahead to recreate the actual conditions of the mission up until the actual landing. The Apollo 10 control module entered the lunar orbit and stayed there, while the lunar lander was dispatched in the descent stage up until the final stage. The heavy speed of the command module actually added to its velocity upon the journey back due to the effects of the Earth's gravity, making it the fastest out of all the Apollo command module crafts!

The main crew on the spacecraft consisted of three people - the commander, a pilot for the main command module, and the pilot of the lunar module, who would maneuver the descent down to the point of the actual landing. The command module safely reached the lunar orbit, at which point the LEM (Lunar Excursion Module) was dispatched and sent down towards the surface of the moon. However, it did not actually land on the moon, stopping a few miles above the surface before the module would have entered a high-powered stage of descent. This mission was the only Apollo mission to blast off from the Launch pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center.

During the mission, an incorrectly placed switch actually caused the ascent stage of the module Snoopy to change trajectory, which had to be manually assumed in order to regain the proper altitude. This happened right before it re-docked with the control module.

The Apollo 10 mission lasted for a period of 192 hours, three minutes, and 23 seconds, which roughly comes to eight days. It took around three days each for the crew to reach the moon and resume the journey back to Earth, with two days being spent in the orbit of the moon.

The Apollo 10 mission also gave us the first color footage of the moon, with a live broadcast being shown at the time of descent to the surface. The astronauts Stafford and Cernan sent back pictures of what would be the landing site for Apollo 11 - The Sea of Tranquility.

After the mission, the lunar module Snoopy ascended into space, with its current location being unknown. The crew safely splashed down back to Earth on May 26, in the Pacific Ocean, where they were retrieved by their recovery ship - the aircraft carrier ship USS Princeton - eight full days after their launch on May 18. The mission cost around $350 million in total - which would be around $2.95 billion today!

Apollo 10 crew

The main crew of the Apollo 10 mission consisted of three veteran astronauts, Thomas P. Stafford, Eugene A. Cernan, and John W. Young.

The commander of the mission was Thomas Stafford, for who it was his third flight into space. As the main command module spacecraft reached lunar orbit, Thomas and his co-pilot, Eugene, undocked in the Lunar module 'Snoopy', and went closer to the moon than anyone had ever gone before, right until the stage of the final descent for a successful lunar landing. Thomas Stafford is the only member of the Apollo 10 crew still alive today, at the ripe old age of 91!

The pilot of the Lunar Module was Eugene Cernan, for whom it was his second spaceflight. Later on, he would become the 11th man to walk on the moon during the Apollo 17 mission and is actually the last man to walk on the moon as of today, as he reentered the spacecraft after the 12th man to step foot on the moon-Harrison Schmitt. During the Apollo 10 mission, Eugene, along with Tom Stafford, took the LM Snoopy up until the final descent stage, which was the end of their journey.

The third of the astronauts on board was John Young, who piloted the command module. The other two members descended towards the moon in the Lunar module, leaving Young behind to pilot the command module 'Charlie Brown'. He skillfully maneuvered the docking and undocking process of the two spacecraft, even after a slight miscalculation which would have led to a considerable delay. John Young later went on to become the ninth man to walk on the moon as a part of the Apollo 16 mission, on which he was the backup commander.

Astronaut on lunar moon landing mission

How close did Apollo 10 get to the Moon?

As the Apollo 10 mission was merely a dress rehearsal for the Apollo 11 mission which saw humans first step foot on the moon, and not an actual moon landing mission itself, the spacecraft made its way until the point where it would start its final descent to the moon. The astronauts Stafford and Cernan flew Snoopy to within 8.4 nautical mi (15.5 km) above the moon's surface.

The lunar module, fondly called Snoopy, was not equipped with enough fuel itself to land on the moon and take off again for the journey to Earth. As spacecraft fuel is very heavy, it takes proper calculations to come up with the exact weight of fuel required for a single journey to space, as anything less could be dangerous as there is no fuel supply in space, and anything more could add to the weight of the spaceship.

Why did Apollo 10 not land on the moon?

The Apollo 10 mission was never meant to land on the moon. It was simply a dress rehearsal to make sure that things would go smoothly for the Apollo 11 mission, which was actually planned to be the mission to help humans first set foot on the moon.

As it was only a practice run, the spacecraft was never meant to be perfect. NASA had still not yet perfected the weight of the Lunar module set to land on the moon, it was still a tad bit heavy to make the journey, let alone make a successful landing and blast off back to Earth again. The Apollo 10 team managed to fix this problem by filling the tanks of the Lunar excursion module's ascent stage only halfway up with fuel, meaning that there wouldn't have been enough to actually make the landing and take off again. The current unit was simply not light enough to land on the moon, and yet it would have been a waste to simply dispose of a perfectly working module, which is why they went ahead with the test run.

Though the Apollo 10 craft came quite close to the moon, it would have been very tempting for the two astronauts on board the descending module to manually land their lunar module on the moon and claim the title of the first men on the moon. Though the crew would have not dared to disobey orders and go ahead with the landing, they were still very much skilled enough to do make the landing. If they had actually gone ahead with the final descent stage, they would have run out of fuel and the astronauts would have been stuck on the moon, with no rescue mission in sight and no way to call for help. Hence, actually trying to divert the Apollo 10 to the moon would have cost them their lives.

It was still, however, the closest approach to the moon until that date, and the crew brought back very valuable data to Earth which helped immensely in preparing for the Apollo 11 mission - which would see man first step foot on the moon.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Apollo 10 facts, then why not take a look at Apollo 15 facts, or Apollo 1 facts.

Written By
Tanya Parkhi

<p>Tanya is a skilled content creator with a passion for writing and a love for exploring new cultures. With a degree in Economics from Fergusson College, Pune, India, Tanya worked on her writing skills by contributing to various editorials and publications. She has experience writing blogs, articles, and essays, covering a range of topics. Tanya's writing reflects her interest in travel and exploring local traditions. Her articles showcase her ability to engage readers and keep them interested.</p>

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