News ID: 232388
Published: 0815 GMT October 07, 2018

Apollo program: First steps into space, 50 years on

Apollo program: First steps into space, 50 years on

Fifty years ago this week, the first Apollo spacecraft to carry humans into space was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The sequence of missions begun by Apollo 7 would eventually see American astronauts land on the moon nine months later, reported.

The 11 manned Apollo flights that took place between 1968 and 1972 represent the greatest odyssey ever undertaken by our species and are revealed in majestic color in the newly released Apollo VII to XVII, published by teNeues (£45).

The book is filled with startling color images of fiery Apollo launches and spacecraft interiors as well as scenes of the bright blue disc of the Earth rising majestically over grey lunar plains.

It is a dramatic evocation of just how swiftly the US manned space program had advanced in only a few years since one of the country’s former presidents, John Kennedy, had committed the state, in May 1961, to land a human on the moon by the end of the decade.

Complex space rendezvous techniques had to be perfected, special spacecraft designed and Apollo’s giant Saturn V launcher constructed and tested.

All had been put through their paces during unmanned flights. Apollo 7 was the first to carry astronauts. The mission was confined to Earth orbit but still grabbed world attention after its astronauts — Walter Schirra, Donn Eisele and Walter Cunningham — made the world’s first live television broadcast from space.

Photography was given a key role in the Apollo program as NASA wanted good records of its missions and the three astronauts had been trained to use Hasselblad cameras that were later used routinely on other missions.

The resulting photographs are of superb quality, though Cunningham recalled being given one strange photographic command: “We were told: take no pictures of China,” he stated. The order, made presumably for security reasons, turned out to be an easy one, he added.

“In eleven days and many passes over China, we never saw the surface because of cloud cover and smog in their atmosphere.”



Command module pilot David Scott space walks during the Apollo 9 mission.


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