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Thursday, 16 July 2009

Moon Landing: T Minus 4 Days - Launch

Forty years ago today, Apollo 11 and its crew of three blasted of from Pad 39A at Cape Canaveral. The Saturn V moon rocket remains the largest booster rocket yet flown. While the little known Russian N-1 moon rocket exploded on each of its four launches, the Saturn V flew successfully on each of its 13 launches, from its first test launch with the unmanned Apollo 4 capsule in 1967 to its final curtain call in 1973 putting NASA's Skylab space station into Earth orbit.

This illustration is a very familiar one to plastic modelers - Airfix's 1/144th scale Apollo Saturn kit. Regular Airfix artist Roy Cross portrays the immense power of the rocket's first stage as it climbs away from the pad with NASA's 525 foot tall Vehicle Assembly Building, in which it was built, dwindling into the distance. There are many more Airfix box illustrations in the Roy Cross’ own book, The Vintage Years Of Airfix Box Art.

Back in 1969, the first and second stages of the Saturn V separated as scheduled and the third stage placed the Apollo Command Service Module (CSM), with the astronauts on board, and the Lunar Module (LM) into a lunar transfer orbit. The crew detached the CSM from the rest and turned it through 180 degrees to dock with the LM before pulling the LM clear of the Saturn V's third stage. They then lit the CSM's engine and began their three day voyage to the Moon.

Yesterday - Predicting The Date
Tomorrow - Mission Overview

• Coinciding with Jeremy's countdown to the 40th Anniversary of the first Moon Landing, downthetubes is publishing "Moon Landing 40th Anniversary: A Comics Celebration" - a gallery of illustrations and comic art inspired by space exploration.
Contributions are very welcome: if you don't want to join our forum and upload art but would like to join in with the celebrations, simply send your work to Please ensure images are no larger than 2MB in size and include a brief bio and web link so we can give you deserved credit.

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