Lunar and Planetary Institute

Apollo 9 Mission

Mission Overview

Mission Plan

The ten-day Apollo 9 mission was designed to qualify the lunar module and to demonstrate combined spacecraft functions for manned lunar flight.  Primary flight objectives were to test the lunar module and spacecraft/launch-vehicle adapter, complete docked and undocked maneuvers, perform a lunar module-command module rendezvous, demonstrate extra-vehicular capability, and perform system functions for periods of time comparable to a lunar mission.





March 3, 1969     11:00:00 am


Orbital insertion

March 3, 1969     11:11:14 am


CM/SM separation

March 13, 1969   11:36:03 am


Entry interface

March 13, 1969   11:44:10 am



March 13, 1969    12:00:54 am



LaunchThe space vehicle was launched at 11:00:00 am EST on March 3, 1969, and the insertion orbit was 102.3 by 103.9 miles.  The command and service module was separated from the S-IVB stage, transposed, and docked with the lunar module.  At approximately four hours after launch, an ejection mechanism, used for the first time on this mission, ejected the docked spacecraft from the S-IVB.   


The spacecraft of the Apollo 9 mission consisted of a command module, a service module, a lunar module, a launch escape system, and a spacecraft lunar module adapter, all launched by a Saturn V rocket.  The command module had the call-sign Gumdrop because of its appearance when it was transported on Earth--during shipment, it was covered in blue wrappings that gave it the appearance of a wrapped gumdrop.  The lunar module had the call-sign Spider because of its spider-like configuration.


James R. McDivitt James R. McDivitt, Mission Commander, was born on June 10, 1929, in Chicago, Illinois.  He received a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Michigan (1959), an Honorary Doctorate in Astronautical Science from the University of Michigan (1965), an Honorary Doctorate from Seton Hall University (1969), an Honorary Doctorate from Miami University, Ohio (1970), and an Honorary Doctorate from Eastern Michigan University (1975).  He joined the Air Force in 1951 and retired with the rank of Brigadier General.  He flew 145 combat missions during the Korean War in F-80s and F-86s.  He is a graduate of the USAF Experimental Test Pilot School and the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot course and served as an experimental test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base, California.  General McDivitt was selected as an astronaut by NASA in September 1962 and was command pilot for Gemini 4 in 1965.  He became Manager of Lunar Landing Operations in May 1969, leading a team that planned the lunar exploration program and redesigned the spacecraft to accomplish this task.   In August 1969, he became Manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program and was the program manager for Apollo 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16.  He retired from the USAF and left NASA in June 1972.
David R. Scott David R. Scott, Command Module Pilot, was born on June 6, 1932, in San Antonio, Texas.  He received a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Military Academy and the degrees of Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineer in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Astronautical Science from the University of Michigan in 1971 and graduated from the Air Force Experimental Test Pilots School and Aerospace Research Pilots School.  Scott was one of the third group of astronauts named by NASA in October 1963 and in 1966, he and command pilot Neil Armstrong were launched into space on the Gemini 8 mission and later served as spacecraft commander of Apollo 15.  He retired from the Air Force in March 1975 with the rank of Colonel and over 5600 hours of flying time.
Russell L. "Rusty" Schweickhart Russell L. “Rusty” Schweickhart, Lunar Module Pilot, was born on October 25, 1935, in Neptune, New Jersey.  He received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1956 and his Master of Science degree in 1963, both from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Schweickart served as a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force and the Massachusetts Air National Guard from 1956 to 1963 and logged over 4000 hours of flight time, including 3500 hours in high performance jet aircraft.  He joined NASA as one of 14 astronauts named in October 1963, the third group of astronauts selected.  Schweickart  was named backup commander for the first Skylab mission which flew in the Spring of 1973, then went to NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC to serve as Director of User Affairs in the Office of Applications.  Today he is a retired business and government executive and serves as Chairman of the Board of the B612 Foundation, a non-profit private foundation that champions the development and testing of a spaceflight concept to protect the Earth from future asteroid impacts.

Back-up crew for this mission were Charles Conrad, Jr. (back-up commander), Richard F. Gordon, Jr. (back-up command module pilot), and Alan L. Bean (back-up lunar module pilot).


SplashdownThe Apollo 9 command module Gumdrop splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean recovery area to conclude a successful ten-day, earth orbital mission.  Splashdown occurred at 12:00:54 p.m. (EST), on March 13, 1969, only 4.5 nautical miles from the prime recovery ship, U.S.S. Guadalcanal.  The Apollo 9 command module is on display at the San Diego Air & Space Museum in California.  The lunar module Spider burned up in the earth's atmosphere.