Apollo 10 Mission
Moltke Crater, 6.5 km across, is a landmark on the approach to the Apollo 11 landing site.
Apollo 10 was launched on May 18, 1969 and performed the final dress rehearsal for the first landing on the Moon. The crew entered lunar orbit on May 21. On May 22, Commander Thomas Stafford and Lunar Module Pilot Eugene Cernan flew the Lunar Module, Snoopy, on an independent test flight while Command Module Pilot John Young remained in the Command Module, Charlie Brown. Stafford and Cernan flew as low as 16 km above the Moon, testing the operation of the descent and ascent engines, the performance of the landing and rendezvous radars, and the ability of the Lunar Module radio system to communicate with Earth and with the Command Module. They made two low altitude passes over planned the Apollo 11 landing site, taking detailed photographs to assess landing site safety. After a flight of slightly more than 8 hours, Snoopy redocked with Charlie Brown. An additional day was spent photographing the Moon from the Command Module at an altitude of about 110 km above the lunar surface. Altogether, Apollo 10 spent 2.6 days in lunar orbit, orbiting the Moon 31 times. The crew returned safely to Earth and landed in the Pacific Ocean on May 26 after a flight of 8 days and 3 minutes. Apollo 10 successfully completed all of its primary objectives, clearing the way for Apollo 11 to attempt the first human landing on the Moon.