I am a little confused on how it worked. My understanding is that, if the shuttle was orbiting the moon, they had to wait until it came around and time it so that it could intercept the lunar module.

9 months ago 9


  1. quantumclaustrophobe

    Well, first, the space shuttle never went to the moon. It never left Earth orbit.

    When the Apollo missions were flown, they left Earth with two craft - the Command/Service Module, and it was attached to the Lunar Module. After entering lunar orbit, two guys would climb into the LM, detach from the CSM, and descend to the surface under power.
    The LM was in two parts; it had a lower stage, with the descent engine and the landing legs, and carried most of the equipment to be left on the moon. The upper stage was where the crew were; it also had an engine to ascend back into orbit.
    After exploring the surface, the two astronauts would leave whatever they could - including boots and backpacks, and climb back into the upper stage. At the proper time, they fired the engine, leaving the lower stage on the surface, and they returned to orbit in the upper stage.
    Next, they'd dock with the CSM once again, and transfer the crew and soil samples out of the ascent stage of the LM... then, they'd send it to crash into the surface.
    On the farside of the moon, they'd fire the CSM's engine, building speed (about 3,000 mph), and leave lunar orbit, heading back to Earth. For about 3 1/2 days, they'd "fall" all the way back to Earth, accelerating from 3000 mph to about 25,000 mph just before hitting Earth's atmosphere.
    Then, they'd jettison the Service module, and re-enter the atmosphere in the command module - it had to hit the edge within a margin of about 4 degrees; any shallower, and they'd skip off the atmosphere back into space (and, at 25,000mph, they wouldn't come back...) Any *steeper*, and the heat would built up too quickly, and they'd incinerate. They had to hit it at the right angle to slow the craft, but not too fast. Once they were within the atmosphere, a drogue chute would pull the main parachutes out, and they'd splashdown in the ocean. From atmospheric contact to splashdown was about 8 or 9 minutes, if memory serves...

  2. campbelp2002

    You are correct, they had to wait until exactly the right second to launch the Lunar Module (LM). But the right second came every 2 hours because that is how long it took for the command module (CM) complete one orbit.

    Now you wonder why they need to wait sometimes days to launch from Earth to get to the International Space Station (ISS) when it takes only one and a half hours to complete an orbit. That is because the space station orbit is highly inclined (tilted) to the equator and the Earth rotates once every 24 hours so the ISS doesn't pass over the launch site every orbit.

    The Apollo missions all landed pretty near the lunar equator and the Moon takes 4 weeks to rotate once around. So the CM still passed pretty closely over the landing site every orbit.

  3. Brigalow Bloke

    No space shuttle was ever capable of reaching the Moon. The part left orbiting the Moon was called the Command Module and it had a connection for the part of the Lunar Excursion Module (which as I recall was called the Ascent Module) which took off from the Moon.

    On leaving the Moon, the Ascent Module took off while the Command Module was still a long way away and began to orbit the Moon. Hours later, the Command Module and the Ascent Module matched velocities and orbits and connected up. The astronauts who had been on the Moon then transferred to the Command Module, taking their rock samples with them and leaving anything that was no longer wanted in the Ascent Module.

    The combined spacecraft then returned to Earth. As it approached the Earth, the astronauts then transferred into a special capsule for return to Earth. The Ascent Module and Command Module were then discarded and left to burn up in reentry to the Earth, probably over the Pacific Ocean where they were unlikely to strike anything as they fell.

    EDIT I just checked, they dumped the Ascent Module on the Moon as soon as they transferred to the Command Module .

  4. Gary B

    Space shuttle never went to the moon.

    The soace shuttel did not haev enough fuel to take off fromt eh moon, and beside -- when we we goign to the moon, space shuttles had not been built.

    You ALMOST have the timign right for the pickuop, but . . . .

    The timign of the lunar lander lift-off was tiemd so that it woudl meet the Orbital BVessel at the right time. The orbiter did NOTHING; all the timign was done by the lander.

    But the oprbiter ws NOT ASpace Shutt;le. it was a specially designed ropc ket to take the LANDER (that spider-lookign thing) to the moon, catch it in ordti, aNSD FLY BACK TO EARTH. oNCE BAKL TO EARTH, THE OPRBITER WAS EJECTED, AND FELL INTO TEH OCAN, WHILE THE CAPSULE LRELEASE PARACHUTES AND FLOATED TO TEH GROUND.

  5. Mark G

    You can't the Space Shuttle could not fly to the Moon and wasn't built until years after the Apollo missions ended,

  6. Bill

    The Space Shuttles never went to the moon. The Moon Missions consisted of several different types of craft.
    The Command Module (CM) was the conical crew cabin, designed to carry three astronauts from launch to lunar orbit and back to an Earth ocean landing.

    And the main Saturn V launch vehicles

  7. tham153

    The first Shuttle launch came nine years after the last lunar landing, and the Shuttle had no ability to fly above 800 miles altitude, very far from reaching the Moon

  8. CarolOklaNola

    There were NO space shuttles to return to during ANY of the Apollo missions. "....Your facts are uncoordinated...."

  9. Angela D

    impossible to answer, since no space shuttle ever went above low earth orbit.

    are you stupid or something?

Leave A Reply

 Prev Questions

Next Questions