The Top Apollo Program Milestones

In just 11 years, the program overcame all obstacles to reach the moon.

By Amber Jorgenson
May 20, 2019 5:44 PMDec 13, 2019 8:15 PM
Saturn I rocket, Kennedy Space Center - NASA
The first Saturn I rocket, SA-1, launches from NASA's Kennedy Space Center. (Credit: NASA)


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October 27, 1961: SA-1

Uncrewed suborbital flight. The Saturn I rocket’s first test flight climbs 85 miles.

April 25, 1962: SA-2

Uncrewed suborbital flight. This test flight of Saturn I carries 190,000 pounds of water to an altitude of 65 miles.

May 28, 1964: SA-6

Apollo/Saturn uncrewed Earth-orbiting mission. The first flight of an Apollo spacecraft model.

February 16, 1965: SA-9/Pegasus 1

Apollo/Saturn uncrewed Earth-orbiting mission. One of three missions that would measure the abundance of space rocks above Earth.

February 26, 1966: AS-201

Uncrewed suborbital flight. A Saturn 1B rocket carries the Apollo spacecraft 310 miles up, testing its heat shield and mission support facilities.

July 5, 1966: AS-203

Apollo/Saturn uncrewed Earth-orbiting mission. Test flight of Saturn V rocket instruments collects flight information under orbital conditions.

January 27, 1967: Apollo 1 accident

A fire kills the mission’s three astronauts during a preflight test at Cape Canaveral. Crew: Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee.

November 9, 1967: Apollo 4

Apollo/Saturn uncrewed Earth-orbiting mission. Tests all aspects of the Saturn V launch vehicle.

January 22, 1968: Apollo 5

Apollo/Saturn uncrewed Earth-orbiting mission. First test flight of the lunar module.

October 11, 1968: Apollo 7

Apollo Earth-orbiting mission. First crewed Apollo spacecraft flight. Crew: Walter Schirra Jr., Donn Eisele and Walter Cunningham.

December 21, 1968: Apollo 8

Apollo lunar mission. First crewed mission to orbit the moon. Crew: Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders.

March 3, 1969: Apollo 9

Apollo crewed Earth-orbiting mission. First crewed flight with the lunar module. Crew: James McDivitt, David Scott and Russell “Rusty” Schweickart.

May 18, 1969: Apollo 10

Apollo lunar mission. The final dress rehearsal confirms everything but the actual landing. Crew: Thomas Stafford, John Young and Eugene Cernan.

July 16, 1969: Apollo 11

Apollo lunar mission. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become the first humans to walk on the moon. Michael Collins stays in lunar orbit.

November 14, 1969: Apollo 12

Apollo lunar mission. The second lunar landing. Crew: Charles Conrad Jr., Richard Gordon and Alan Bean.

April 11, 1970: Apollo 13

Apollo lunar mission. An in-flight explosion thwarts landing, but the crew returns safely. Crew: Jim Lovell, John “Jack” Swigert and Fred Haise.

January 31, 1971: Apollo 14

Apollo lunar mission. Another successful journey. Crew: Alan Shepard Jr., Stuart Roosa and Edgar Mitchell.

July 26, 1971: Apollo 15

Apollo lunar mission. The fourth flight to land on the moon, it is the first to use the lunar roving vehicle. Crew: David Scott, Alfred Worden and James Irwin.

April 16, 1972: Apollo 16

Apollo lunar mission. The fifth trek to the lunar surface. Crew: John Young, Thomas “Ken” Mattingly and Charles Duke Jr.

December 7, 1972: Apollo 17

Apollo lunar mission. Last voyage to the moon. The astronauts travel the greatest distance on the lunar rover and return more rock and soil samples. Crew: Harrison Schmitt, Eugene Cernan and Ronald Evans.

[This timeline originally appeared in print as "Apollo Milestones."]

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