It was 50 years ago today …


The year 1969 was a big one for NASA.


Apollo 11 backup crew members Fred Haise (left) and Jim Lovell prepare to enter the Lunar Module for an altitude test.

NASA

Fifty years ago, the tension was building in Florida’s Kennedy Space Centre.

The Apollo 9 mission had just successfully tested the Lunar Module in Earth orbit, Apollo 10 was ready to carry out a dress rehearsal of a lunar landing in May, and hopes were high that Apollo 11 would do the business come July.

There was still much work to be done, however.

While the three astronauts (Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins) and their back-ups (James Lovell, Fred Haise and William Anders) were testing the Command Module in the altitude chamber in the Manned Spacecraft Operations Building, over in the Vehicle Assembly Building the three stages of the Saturn V rocket were being given a thorough checking over.

At the same time, a 30-day simulation was under way in the Lunar Receiving Laboratory at the Manned Spacecraft Centre – now the Johnson Space Centre – in Houston, Texas.

The simulation was the most complex test of the facility to verify that all its components would be ready to support crew members and their samples returning from the Moon.

The rest, as they say, is history.

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