Launch of Apollo 10

May 18, 1969

Apollo 10 launches from the Kennedy Space Center. It would be the final “dress rehearsal” flight to the moon before Apollo 11 would make the first Moon landing two months later. NASA had considered making Apollo 10 the first Moon landing, but mission planners decided that it would be best to have a practice flight where all systems and procedures were tested up to the point where the lunar module would actually make powered descent to the Moon. Apollo 10’s lunar module, given the call sign “Snoopy” would make it to within 15 kilometers of the Moon’s surface, taking pictures of the proposed Apollo 11 landing site and testing the lunar module’s landing radar. It would dock back with the command module, given call sign “Charlie Brown”, after nearly 8 hours in orbit.

Apollo 10 holds some interesting distinctions. It was the first mission to carry a color TV camera so Earth viewers received the first color TV images of the planet. Apollo 10’s crew was the first to successfully shave in space. Apollo 10’s crew also set the record for the fastest speed any humans have traveled relative to Earth. Ultimately, the thorough testing of systems, photographs of the Moon’s surface, and data returned from the Apollo 10 mission cleared the way for Apollo 11 to make the first human landing on the Moon.