Apollo 4 (AS-501)

November 1967: the inquiry into the Apollo 1 fire was complete and NASA's first Saturn V launch vehicle was on its way to the stars. The unmanned launch was flawless.

Sat on the top of the huge Saturn V which at launch generates 7.5 million pounds (3.4 million kg) of thrust, was a Block I Command Module with a great deal of the new Block II enhancements, like the new Hatch and an improved heat shield. It was the first time the full Lunar launch configuration was tested, as well as the Saturn V it had the SIV-B booster, Service Module and Command Module. It even had a mock up of the Lunar Module. There also was a high powered camera set up to take snaps from Window 1 (the pilot's window on the CM).

Once the Command Module was free of the Saturn IV-B the CSM's engine was tested and then shot the CM back towards Earth at a terrifying 24,800 miles per hour.

The U.S.S. Bennington picked the CM up around 9 hours after it launched from the Cape. Technically, managerially, and psychologically, Apollo 4 was an important and successful mission, especially in view of the number of firsts it took on. It was the first flight of the first and second stages of the Saturn V (the Saturn-IVB stage had flown on the Saturn 1-B launch vehicles), the first launch of the complete Saturn V, the first restart of the Saturn IV-B in orbital flight, the first flight test of the Block II command module heat shield, the first flight of even a simulated lunar module, and so on. An overall success, indeed America was on the way to the Moon.

15 named missions made up the Apollo Project. Not including Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz.

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