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The Final Qualification

IMAGE: Comparison of Command / Service Module and Lunar Module

MissionApollo VI
Lift OffSaturn V
April 4, 1968
7:00 a.m. EST
KSC, Florida
Complex 39-A
April 4, 1968
5:23 p.m. EST
Atlantic Ocean
Duration10 hours,
22 minutes,
59 seconds

IMAGE: Apollo 40th anniversary

IMAGE: The Apollo 6 Mission

The unmanned Saturn/Apollo 6 mission was designed as the final qualification of the Saturn V launch vehicle and Apollo spacecraft for crewed Apollo missions. The spacecraft consisted of the three-stage Saturn V, the Apollo Command and Service Module and a boilerplate Lunar Module.

The primary objectives of the mission were to demonstrate structural and thermal integrity and compatibility of the launch vehicle and spacecraft, confirm launch loads and dynamic characteristics and verify stage separations, propulsion, guidance and control, electrical systems, emergency detection system and mission support facilities and operations, including Command Module recovery.

Three major problems occurred during the mission. The Saturn V structure underwent a severe pogo oscillation, without damage to the spacecraft structure. Due to a manufacturing flaw, structural panels were lost from the Lunar Module adapter. Finally, after the completion of first stage firing and part way through the second stage burn, two of the five second stage J-2 engines shut down prematurely. The planned 175-kilometer (108.7-mile) circular Earth orbit was not achieved, instead, after completion of the third stage burn, the spacecraft was in a 172.1 x 223.1-kilometer (106.9 x 138.6-mile), 89.8-minute orbit.

The Command Module splashed down 80 kilometers (49.7 miles) off target 10 hours, 22 minutes, 59 seconds after launch and was recovered in good condition.

The Missions

IMAGE: Apollo 6 liftoff
Related Links
* 40th Anniversary
*KSC Apollo 6 Site
*Apollo 6 Mission Gallery

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: Amiko Kauderer | Updated: 07/01/2009
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