Happy 40th anniversary, Apollo 15!

Jul 27, 2011 By Tega Jessa
Image from Apollo 15. Credit: NASA

This month is the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 15 launch. This mission was the eighth manned mission in the Apollo program and the fourth to the Moon. The Apollo 15 mission is important because it was another step in manned exploration bringing more advanced scientific tools for exploration of the Moon. The mission demonstrates the importance that advanced technology has in further manned space exploration. This is perhaps an important thing to remember with the recent conclusion of the U.S Space Shuttle program.

The Apollo 15 mission launch happened July 26, 1971 around 9:30 AM in the morning. The Apollo 15 spacecraft entered translunar orbit later at 12:30. The mission was to cover 4 main objectives. First the crew was to perform selenological inspections and surveys on the . This included investigating surface features and obtaining material samples from the selected Hadley-Appennius area of the Moon. The next mission goal was to emplace and activate surface experiments. Next the crew was to evaluate the capability of the Apollo equipment to provide extended lunar surface stay time. The final objective was to conduct inflight experiments and complete photographic tasks from .

In the entire mission lasted 12 days from initial launch to splash down. Like all other the crew consisted of three astronauts. The mission commander was David R. Scott who was completing his third space flight. The command module pilot and lunar module pilot were Alfred M. Worden and James B. Irwin. For both pilots it was their only space flight. Like all lunar missions, one of the pilots remained while the lunar module pilot and the commander went to the surface to complete the surface portion of the mission.

One unique feature introduced for the first time to the on the Apollo 15 mission was the lunar roving vehicle. The LRV was a four wheeled manually controlled electric vehicle designed for exploration of the lunar surface. The craft could carry two astronauts and a scientific payload at up to 16 km per hours. This allowed for astronauts to explore more of the lunar surface within the limited time frame of a lunar mission.

The Apollo 15 mission provided some of the most iconic images of manned lunar exploration. As the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 15 launch arrives it is a great moment to look back at the great strides that manned space exploration achieved and recommit ourselves to expanding its capabilities and horizons in future missions.

Explore further: 'Flying saucer': NASA live-streamed Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator test

Related Stories

NASA honors Apollo moon walker Buzz Aldrin

Mar 17, 2006

NASA will honor former astronaut Buzz Aldrin for his involvement in the U.S. space program with the presentation of the Ambassador of Exploration Award.

NASA honors late astronaut Charles Conrad

Nov 08, 2006

NASA says it will honor former astronaut Charles "Pete" Conrad for his involvement in the U.S. space program with the Ambassador of Exploration award.

Apollo 8: Christmas on the moon

Dec 22, 2010

Christmas Eve, 1968. As one of the most turbulent, tragic years in American history drew to a close, millions around the world were watching and listening as the Apollo 8 astronauts -- Frank Borman, Jim Lovell ...

NASA Ames Leads Robotic Lunar Exploration Program

Nov 17, 2005

On Monday, the 36th anniversary of Apollo 12, the second manned lunar landing, NASA announced that it has assigned management of its Robotic Lunar Exploration Program to NASA Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley. ...

India Plans for Lunar Mission in 2007

Jan 26, 2005

Indian Space Research Organisation's unmanned lunar mission will be launched in 2007 as scheduled, country's space program chairman said on Tuesday. If India's first lunar mission scheduled for 2007 is successful, it will ...

Recommended for you

ESA's planetary defence test set for 2020

7 hours ago

If an asteroid were spotted headed towards Earth, what could humanity do about it? ESA's latest mission is part of a larger international effort to find out.

Brief moon eclipse coming April 4

13 hours ago

A brief total eclipse of the Moon may be visible on April 4 to skywatchers in western North America, Australia and East Asia, astronomers say.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.