Fly Me To The Moon: Past and Future Missions
Apollo 4 — Nov. 9, 1967. The uncrewed first launch of NASA's enormous Saturn V rocket.
Apollo 5 — Jan. 22, 1968. The uncrewed mission that brought the lunar module to space for the first time.
Apollo 6 — April 4, 1968. The final uncrewed mission of the Apollo program. The launch was designed to test the ability of the Saturn V to inject astronauts into a lunar trajectory. Severe vibrations of the rocket during launch caused the mission to be only partially successful.
Apollo 7 — Oct. 11, 1968. Astronauts Walter M. Schirra, Donn Eisele, and R. Walter Cunningham were the first Apollo crew to go into space. Rather than head toward the moon, the astronauts spent 11 days in Earth orbit testing various components of their command module.
Apollo 8 — Dec. 21, 1968. Astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders became the first humans to leave low-Earth orbit, heading on a trajectory that took them around the moon and back to our planet. Their historic flight happened on an accelerated schedule. NASA officials made a last-minute decision to head toward the moon after only a single crewed mission around the Earth in order to quickly demonstrate technological superiority over the Soviet Russians.
Apollo 9 — March 3, 1969. Astronauts James McDivitt, David Scott, and Russell "Rusty" Schweickart remained in Earth orbit during their 10-day mission, testing out procedures to dock their command module with the lunar module that would be critical for landing on the moon.
Apollo 10 — May 18, 1969. Astronauts Thomas Stafford, John Young, and Eugene Cernan got extremely close to landing on the moon. Their mission involved flying to our natural satellite and bringing the lunar module to within about 50,000 feet (15,000 meters) of the moon's surface, a mission that served as a dress rehearsal for Apollo 11.
Apollo 11 — July 16, 1969. Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin, and Michael Collins did what no humans had ever done before: reach the moon and have two people walk over its surface. Armstrong and Aldrin left historic boot-prints that still remain in the lunar regolith.
Apollo 12 — Nov. 14, 1969. Astronauts Charles "Pete" Conrad, Alan Bean, and Richard Gordon survived two lightning strikes during liftoff and reached a different spot on the moon than Apollo 11, touching down in a place called the Ocean of Storms. Moonwalkers Conrad and Bean visited NASA's Surveyor 3 probe, which had landed on the moon two years prior.
Apollo 13 — April 11, 1970. Astronauts James Lovell, Fred Haise, and John Swigert suffered after an oxygen tank exploded 56 hours into their flight to the moon, crippling the mission. The crew was forced to scramble into the lunar module and use it as a lifeboat, circling the moon without landing and then returning safely to Earth. This was Lovell's second time around the moon, the first being on Apollo 8.
Apollo 14 — Jan. 31, 1971. Astronauts Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell, and Stuart Roosa are best remembered for having hit golf balls on the moon. Shepard was the first American in space but he and his co-pilots collectively had some of the least flight experience of all the Apollo astronauts, leading them to be lovingly dubbed "the three rookies."
Apollo 15 — July 26, 1971. Astronauts David Scott, James Irwin, and Alfred Worden were part of the mission that carried the lunar roving vehicle, often known as the moon buggy, for the first time to the moon. Their mission emphasized geological work, and the crew was trained to identify different rocks and formations that would help scientists on Earth piece together the history of our planet and its natural satellite.
Apollo 16 — April 16, 1972. Astronauts John Young, Charles M. Duke, and Thomas Mattingly landed at the Descartes Highlands and searched for volcanic rocks during their mission. Confounding scientists' expectations, they found few volcanic samples, indicating that the area had not been formed through volcanic action.
Apollo 17 — Dec. 7, 1972. Astronauts Eugene Cernan, Harrison Schmitt, and Ronald Evans became the final people yet to ever reach the moon. Their mission continued the focus on science, with the astronauts spending the most time on the lunar surface and picking up the largest samples of any in the program.