Date: May 18, 1969. Time: 16:49:00 UTC. Place: Kennedy Space Center. The Saturn’s V first stage F-1 monster engines just sucked up 43 tons of kerosene and liquid oxygen in nine seconds before lifting up the 3,000-ton rocket with Apollo 10 from the Pad 39-B.
Apollo 10 was a full dress rehearsal for Apollo’s 11 meeting with destiny two months later. With the permission of the Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz the Command/Service Module (CSM) was named Charlie Brown and the Lunar Module (LM) Snoopy. The crew of Thomas Stafford (Mission Commander), John Young (CSM Pilot) and Eugene Cernan (LM Pilot) had 10 spaceflights between them and Gene also performed an extra-vehicular activity (EVA) on Gemini 9 (the third EVA ever).
On May 24 40 years ago, Thomas Stafford, John Young and Eugene Cernan were orbiting the Moon after the first-ever manned CSM – LM docking in lunar orbit carried out at 03:11:02 UTC on May 23, 1969 (at 106:22:02 MET) preparing for the Trans-Earth Injection (TEI) maneuver to set them on the course home. The TEI burn started at 10:25:29 UTC on May 24, 1969 (at 137:36:28.9 MET) and lasted 165 seconds. Apollo 10 landed successfully at 16:52:23 UTC on May 26, 1969 (at 192:03:23 MET) about 200 km east of American Samoa.
Science Museum in London, the home of Apollo 10 CSM – Charlie Brown, prepared a special event for its visitors for the 40th anniversary of the mission. For only one day (Saturday, May 23 2009) the module’s hatch cover was removed from the spacecraft to allow visitor to look at the actual controls.
More photos are available in my flickr photostream.
For great inside info about Apollo 10 read Eugene Cernan’s The Last Man On The Moon.