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After the triumph of Apollo 8 orbiting the moon, Apollo 9's mission was no less ambitious. Perhaps it did not have the glamor of circling another world, but it was an important step to getting to the moon.
Future crews had to be comfortable with docking and undocking the two Apollo spacecraft — necessary maneuvers for the lunar module to land on the moon, and for the command module to bring the astronauts from lunar orbit back to Earth.
Astronauts - Work - Names - Spacecraft - Command
Although the astronauts were serious about their work, they assigned whimsical names to the spacecraft: the command module was called Gumdrop, and the lunar module, Spider, because that's what the modules resembled.
The first few days went relatively smoothly. The astronauts docked the two spacecraft successfully on the first try. Gumdrop fired its engines several times with Spider attached, proving it could handle the mass of the lunar module during orbital maneuvers.
Flight - Day - NASA - Astronaut - Ability
On Flight Day 4, NASA wanted to test an astronaut's ability to climb from one spacecraft to the other in case the lunar module and command module refused to dock with each other in lunar orbit. If that happened, a spacewalk to the command module would be the crew's only ticket home.
The crew planned to simulate this spacewalk. Unfortunately, Schweickart felt nauseated from almost the beginning of the mission. According to flight director Chris Kraft, McDivitt waited until almost the last minute to inform Mission Control about the situation.
Schweickart - Days - Flight - Surgeons - Medications
"If he reported on Schweickart a few days earlier, the flight surgeons would probably have prescribed medications that could have eliminated his symptoms," Kraft recalled in his autobiography, "Flight: My Life in Mission Control" (Dutton, 2001). NASA elected to reduce the spacewalk requirements to make sure that Schweickart could perform the tasks safely.
Astronauts are well-prepared to adapt their mission plans as needed, and the Apollo...
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