National Geographic : 1964 Mar
II - The Flight and Approach M AN'S FIRST LUNAR MISSION involves fantastically intricate maneuvers. Diagram at top depicts the first hours of the Apollo astronauts' flight: I & 2 Burned out booster rockets strew Apollo's wake. Saturn V's first stage blasts the mooncraft to 200,000 feet. Stage two drops at 600,000 feet, after the escape tower and attached nose cover are jettisoned. In a sequence not shown, Apollo's third stage fires briefly; the craft enters an earth orbit and astronauts await instructions from the ground on a course to the moon. 3 Third stage's restartable engine fires again, placing craft on a lunar trajectory. 4 Course established, Apollo astronauts sep arate the command and service modules from Saturn's third stage and perform a turnaround maneuver, thus freeing the service module's engine for use. Simultaneously, the crew jettisons the adapter of the third stage; it breaks into pieces, exposing the lunar excursion module (LEM) in the forward section. 5 Apollo astronauts link with LEM and 6 discard Saturn's third stage. LEM's legs auto matically pop open as Apollo streaks toward its target. TWO CREWMEN SQUEEZE feet first into LEM (cutaway view at extreme left) as the mooncraft follows a circular orbit 90 miles above the satellite's equator. PREPARING TO LAND, Apollo astronauts separate LEM from the mother ship (left, above). Firing the descent engine, they thrust LEM down toward the moon and place their craft in an elliptical orbit with a low point only 50,000 feet from the surface. If observation proves the site acceptable, astronauts may land on the next pass. Site chosen, moon men turn LEM around (below) and fire its engine as a retrorocket to slow for a landing. HOVERING ABOVE MOON (right), astronauts seek a level landing spot for LEM. In the vacuum of space, gases from the retrorocket assume a balloonlike shape.