13 March 1969 – Apollo 9 returns safely to Earth after testing the Lunar Module.
The Apollo 9 mission was the third manned mission in the United States’ Apollo space program and was launched on March 3, 1969. The mission was designed to test the lunar module, which would eventually land astronauts on the Moon, in Earth’s orbit.
The crew of Apollo 9 consisted of Commander James McDivitt, Command Module Pilot David Scott, and Lunar Module Pilot Rusty Schweickart. During the ten-day mission, the crew conducted a series of tests and maneuvers to evaluate the performance of the lunar module in a simulated lunar landing mission.
The crew performed the first manned flight of the lunar module, separating it from the command module and testing its propulsion system, guidance, and navigation. They also conducted extravehicular activity (EVA) or spacewalks, to evaluate the lunar module’s ability to serve as a platform for future moonwalks.
Additionally, the crew tested various life-support systems, including the backpacks used by the astronauts during EVAs. The mission was a critical step in NASA’s goal of landing humans on the Moon and returning them safely to Earth.