Preparing Apollo 11

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Through the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission (launch on July 16), we’ll be presenting a series of features detailing the preparations for the launch. Featuring edited excerpts from our Apollo 11: Men on the Moon 3-DVD set, our first entry concerns the arrival and erection of the spacecraft and launch vehicle, the sixth Saturn V to be launched.

Activity in processing the Saturn/Apollo in early 1969 was nothing short of frantic. Missions were scheduled on two month intervals, to provide the best possible chance of meeting the “end of the decade” goal. Apollo 9 was rolled out to Pad 39A on January 3rd. Apollo 10 went to Pad B on March 11. By May 8 all of Apollo 12’s launch vehicle was at the Cape for processing.

For Apollo 11, first to arrive at the Cape was the the lunar module ascent stage, delivered on January 8, 1969. Spacecraft components were delivered via aircraft to Cape Canaveral, and were then taken to the Operations and Checkout building, Eagle’s descent stage arrived on January 12. The CSM arrived on January 23.

The first stage of the launch vehicle to arrive was the S-IVB, which was delivered via a Super Guppy aircraft. Apollo 11’s S-IVB arrived on January 18, 1969.  The stage was moved into a test cell in the VAB low-bay area. The second stage arrived on February 6, via barge, and the first stage also arrived over water on February 20. Last to arrive was the Instrument Unit, delivered via air, arriving on February 27, 1969.

Today’s video features the arrival of the launch vehicle and spacecraft, and their erection on the launch platform, leading to a May 20, 1969 rollout to Pad 39A, just two days after the launch of Apollo 10 from Pad B.

Note: These clips are short excerpts from the longer tracks contained on our Apollo 11 3-DVD set. Next: Rollout to the Pad.

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