No doubt this summer will see a tsunami of articles looking back fifty years to Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s first walk on the moon (and Michael Collins’ pivotal role in the mission)
Oft forgotten is the sheer risk involved, and the missions without which Apollo 11 would not have happened. Famously, President Nixon prepared
for the eventuality the moon landing succeeded but leaving the moon again proved impossible. There was also the ultimate sacrifice made by the Apollo 1 crew.
On March 3rd 1969 Apollo 9 was launched. Interestingly, of this writing all three Apollo 9 astronauts are alive, with Mission Commander James McDivitt turning 90 this coming June. David Scott, who is a few weeks younger than my own father would have been if he was still alive, went on to command Apollo 15, and is the only living Commander of a moon landing mission.
Finally Russell “Rusty” Schweickart, the youngest crew member, now 83, around whom the human drama of Apollo 9 focused:
Schweickart spent just over 241 hours in space, and performed the first extravehicular activity (EVA) of the Apollo program, testing the portable life support system that was later used by the 12 astronauts who walked on the Moon. The flight plan called for him to demonstrate an emergency transfer from the lunar module to the command module (CM) using handrails on the LM, but he began to suffer from space adaptation syndrome on the first day in orbit, forcing the postponement of the EVA.