People around the country and the world are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, the first crewed mission to the moon, this week. However, the journey to the moon started years before Apollo 11 landed on the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969. There was some naming inconsistency among the early Apollo missions, as some were renamed later, but here’s what you need to know about each Apollo mission, both before and after the mission that landed on the moon.
AS-201 (Apollo 1A) -- Feb. 26, 1966
AS-201 is sometimes referred to as Apollo 1A. It was the first uncrewed test flight of an Apollo command and service module and the Saturn IB rocket to demonstrate the equipment.
AS-203 (Apollo 3) -- July 5, 1966
Aimed to verify the design of the Saturn IB rocket, this uncrewed flight investigated the effects of weightlessness on the rocket’s liquid hydrogen fuel.
AS-202 (Apollo 2) -- Aug. 25, 1966
AS-202 was the second uncrewed test flight of the Apollo command and service module and the Saturn IB rocket, intended to launch the rocket higher and extend the flight twice as long, as well as testing the heat shield and firing the engine of the command and service module.
Apollo 1 -- originally scheduled for Feb. 21, 1967
The first step toward landing on the moon, Apollo 1 tragically never launched. During a launch rehearsal test in January 1967, one month before the orbital flight was supposed to take place, a cabin fire killed all three crew members.Apollo 1: The moon mission that ended in a fatal fire
Apollo 4 -- Nov. 9, 1967
Ten months after the Apollo 1 tragedy, the Apollo program launched the Saturn V rocket for the first time. This type of rocket would later help carry humans to the moon for the first time.
Apollo 5 -- Jan. 22, 1968
Launched using the Saturn IB rocket, this was the first uncrewed flight of the Apollo Lunar Module. The module would later carry astronauts to the surface of the moon.
Apollo 6 -- April 4, 1968
The second flight of the Saturn V rocket was also the final Apollo mission without a crew. Some of the engines were damaged due to severe vibrations, but NASA fixed the vibrations and deemed the rocket ready for a crewed flight.
Apollo 7 -- Oct 11, 1968
The first mission of the Apollo program to carry a crew into space, Apollo 7 was also the first live TV broadcast from an American spacecraft. Astronauts Wally Schirra, Donn F. Eisele and Walter Cunningham used the Saturn IB rocket to test the Apollo command and service module in low Earth orbit, the mission Apollo 1 was originally designated to complete.
Apollo 8 -- Dec. 21, 1968
The first crewed flight using the Saturn V rocket, Apollo 8 was also the first crewed spacecraft to orbit the moon. Astronauts Frank F. Borman II, James A. Lovell Jr. and William A. Anders became the first humans to fly to the moon.
Apollo 9 -- March 3, 1969
Astronauts James A. McDivitt, David R. Scott and Russell L. Schweickart was the first flight of the full Apollo spacecraft using both the command and service module and the Lunar Module with the Saturn V rocket. The flight confirmed the crew could fly the Lunar Module and dock it to the command and service module.How to experience the Apollo 11 mission as it happened, no time or space travel required
Apollo 10 -- May 18, 1969
Crewed by astronauts Thomas P. Stafford, John W. Young and Eugene A Cernan, Apollo 10 was a “dress rehearsal” for the moon landing. The Lunar Module was flown within 8.4 nautical miles of the lunar surface, just short of landing. Before returning to earth, Apollo 10 orbited the moon 31 times.
Apollo 11 -- July 16, 1969
Four days after launching, astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin landed on the surface of the moon, in the Sea of Tranquility.QUIZ: Test your Apollo 11 knowledge
Apollo 12 -- Nov. 14, 1969
Crew members Charles “Pete” Conrad and Alan L. Bean landed in the Ocean of Storms on the surface of the moon and performed more than a day of lunar surface activity while astronaut Richard F. Gordon orbited the moon.
Apollo 13 -- April 11, 1970
Made famous by the film starring Tom Hanks, the flight was originally slated to land on the surface of the moon, but the lunar landing was canceled when an oxygen tank exploded two days after liftoff. The crew returned safely to Earth six days after launch.
Apollo 14 -- Jan. 31, 1971
Astronauts Alan Shepard, Stuard Roosa and Edgar Mitchell broadcast the first color TV images from the lunar surface. It was the first mission to land in the lunar highlands.
Apollo 15 -- July 26, 1971
The mission was the longest stay on the moon yet, using the Lunar Roving Vehicle for the first time.
Apollo 16 -- April 16, 1972
Crew members spent just under three days on the lunar service, collecting lunar samples to return to Earth.
Apollo 17 -- Dec. 7, 1972
The most recent time humans traveled beyond low Earth orbit, the mission broke several spaceflight records. It was the longest moon landing, the longest total moonwalks, the largest lunar sample, longest time in lunar orbit and the most lunar orbits. It was also the first time a geologist was sent to the surface of the moon.
Apollo 18, 19 and 20 -- canceled
The final three Apollo missions were canceled -- the first two due to budget cuts in September 1970 and the final mission because the launch vehicle was needed to launch Skylab, NASA’s first space station.