In Photos: The Most Important Achievements of the Apollo Program
On April 13, 1970, an oxygen tank exploded aboard Apollo 13, forcing American astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise to act quickly in order to save the spacecraft as well as their own lives. The explosion forced the crew to abandon their mission — to reach the moon — but the crew’s heroics saved the craft and saved NASA from another tragedy just three years after the Apollo 1 disaster.
Now, we look beyond those two accidents and survey, via photographs from the missions, some of the most important achievements in the history of the Apollo program.
All Apollo photos taken from the Project Apollo Archive.
A view from on board Apollo 7 during the Earth orbit. The Apollo 7 crew —Commander Walter M. Schirra, Command Module Pilot Donn F. Eisele, and Lunar Module Pilot R. Walter Cunningham — was able to fulfill the mission initially intended for the doomed Apollo 1.
Command Module Pilot Donn F. Eisele aboard Apollo 7 during its 11-day Earth-orbital test flight.
Apollo 7 Lunar Module Pilot Walter Cunningham. Apollo 7’s was the first crew sent into orbit around the Earth.
Cunningham writes with a space pen aboard Apollo 7. The Apollo 7 crew also transmitted the first live television broadcast from a U.S. spacecraft.
An astronaut peeks out of the Apollo 9 Module with the curvature of the Earth shown clearly in the background.
Apollo 9 was the first mission to include the Lunar Module.
The Apollo 9 crew of Commander James McDivitt, Command Module Pilot David Scott, and Lunar Module Pilot Rusty Schweickart spent 10 days in orbit performing many tests that would be critical to eventually landing on the moon.
David Scott (above) would later be the Commander on Apollo 15.
The Apollo 10 Lunar Module was able to navigate within 8.4 nautical miles of the lunar surface, the point at which powered decent to the moon’s surface would commence.
The success of this mission enabled the first lunar landing attempt with Apollo 11.
The Apollo 11 Lunar Module, with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on board, landed on the surface of the moon on July 20th, 1969.
Shortly after it landed, Armstrong (above) became the first man to walk on the moon.
Aldrin (above) would soon follow Armstrong, becoming the second man to ever step on the lunar surface.
Neil Armstrong climbing out of the Lunar Module and onto the surface of the moon.
Above is the first EVA (Extravehicular Activity) photo ever taken — the first frame taken by Neil Armstrong from west of the ladder.
Aldrin preparing to deploy two components of the Early Apollo Scientific Experiments Package (EASEP) on the surface of the moon.
Aldrin stands saluting the American Flag upon the lunar surface. The astronaut’s footprints are clearly visible in the frame.
Some conspiracy theorists suggest that the lunar landings were faked by NASA and that the lunar walks never happened.