Picture of Apollo 9 launch
The major goal of the Apollo 9 mission was to conduct the first tests of the Lunar Module and other new space equipment. The Lunar Module was the latest piece of NASA hardware, designed to carry astronauts to the Moon's surface and safely return them to their Space Module. It would prove successful in all nine of its uses for the Apollo space program.
Apollo 9 lifted off on Mar. 3, 1969, with astronauts James McDivitt, David Scott, and Russell Schweickart on board, becoming the first flight with all the equipment necessary for a lunar landing. During 152 orbits of Earth, McDivitt undocked the Lunar Module and, in conditions similar to those around the Moon, successfully reattatched it to the Space Module.
The astronauts also tested a new space suit designed with a built-in life support system, enabling them to move around freely, as would be needed on the lunar surface. Apollo 9, though not as famous as other Apollo missions, gave scientists much valuable information about safely reaching the Moon, a goal finally achieved by Apollo 11.
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