Image above: Apollo 9 Astronauts McDivitt, Scott and Schweickar
Apollo 9 was the third crewed Apollo flight and the first crewed flight to include the Lunar Module (LM). The crew included Commander James McDivitt, Command Module (CM) pilot David Scott, and LM pilot Russell Schweickart. The primary objective of the mission was to test all aspects of the Lunar Module in Earth orbit, including operation of the LM as an independent self-sufficient spacecraft and performance of docking and rendezvous manuevers. The goal was to simulate maneuvers which would be performed in actual lunar missions. Other concurrent objectives included overall checkout of launch vehicle and spacecraft systems, crew, and procedures.
Apollo 9 was composed of a command module, a command service module (CSM), a lunar module, and an instrument unit (IU), and was launched by a Saturn V rocket. On March 6th Schweickart conducted a 37.5 minute EVA on the LM porch to test the astronaut's portable life support system and extravehicular mobility unit. At the same time Scott performed an EVA from the CSM side hatch.
On March 7th the LM separated from the CSM. It was put into a circular orbit about 20 km higher than the CSM. The LM descent stage was jettisoned and for the first time in space the ascent stage engine was fired, lowering the LM orbit to 16 km below and 120 km behind the CSM. The crew transferred back to the CSM, The LM ascent stage was jettisoned and its ascent engine was commanded to fire to fuel depletion.
The remaining four days included more orbital manuevers and a landmark tracking exercise. All systems on all spacecraft worked nearly normally during the mission, and all primary objectives were accomplished.
Apollo 9 splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean on March 13, 1969 after a mission elapsed time of 241 hrs, 0 mins, 54 secs. The splashdown point was 180 miles east of Bahamas and within sight of the recovery ship USS Guadalcanal. The Apollo 9 Command Module "Gumdrop" is on display at the San Diego Aerospace Museum in San Diego, California.