From the Earth to the Moon

Despite the recriminations, Apollo 7 had been a resounding success. According to the original plan, the next step should have been a test of the Lunar Module in Earth orbit, but events had already conspired to give Apollo 8 a new objective. For one thing, the Lunar Module would not be ready for flight until early 1969. With a further test in lunar orbit

TESTING, TESTING

During their mission, the Apollo 7 astronauts practised traditional navigation by taking sightings from bright stars through the CSM's small but serviceable windows.

TESTING, TESTING

During their mission, the Apollo 7 astronauts practised traditional navigation by taking sightings from bright stars through the CSM's small but serviceable windows.

27 December 1968

The Apollo 8 astronauts splash down safely.

WRITING IN SPACE

Walter Cunningham takes notes aboard Apollo 7. Contrary to popular myth, NASA did not spend millions on a "space pen" - the pen was developed by a company that managed to get them adopted by NASA.

DOCKING PRACTISE

Once the CSM was free of its S-IVB upper stage (right), the crew practised the docking manoeuvres that would be needed to link up with the Apollo LM. The white disk just off centre (left) marked the docking target.

WRITING IN SPACE

Walter Cunningham takes notes aboard Apollo 7. Contrary to popular myth, NASA did not spend millions on a "space pen" - the pen was developed by a company that managed to get them adopted by NASA.

DOCKING PRACTISE

Once the CSM was free of its S-IVB upper stage (right), the crew practised the docking manoeuvres that would be needed to link up with the Apollo LM. The white disk just off centre (left) marked the docking target.

17 August 1968

NASA Administrator James Webb agrees to the new Apollo 8 mission, pending a successful flight for Apollo 7.

11 October 1968

Apollo 7 is launched into Earth orbit on an 11-day mission.

22 October 1968

After a fractious, though ultimately successful, mission, the Apollo 7 Command Module splashes down.

21 December 1968

The first manned Saturn V rocket launches Apollo 8 on its historic mission to the Moon.

24 December 1968

A precise engine burn puts Apollo 8 in lunar orbit.

27 December 1968

The Apollo 8 astronauts splash down safely.

In the aftermath of Apollo 1, Wally Schirra, Donn Eisele, and Walter Cunningham moved up to become the prime crew for the next manned mission. Despite the fact that the lunar module was not ready for flight, the crew included a Lunar Module Pilot (Cunningham), and so Apollo 7 became America's first three-man space mission. Its main aims were to test the Command and Service modules within a safe distance of Earth, over a period of 11 days - more than enough time to make it to the Moon and back.

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