ASME-Landmark:Apollo Space Command Module


When the United States undertook Project Apollo, with the intent of landing American astronauts on the moon, the objective was to send a three-man Apollo spacecraft to the moon and into lunar orbit, land two of the three men on the moon in the lunar module while the third remained in orbit, return the lunar explorers to the orbiting spacecraft, and then return all three men safely to earth.

The command module was the control center for the spacecraft, the living and working quarters for the three-man crew. It was the only portion of the Apollo spacecraft system designed to withstand the intense heat of atmospheric re-entry at 25,000 mph, return to Earth, and complete the mission intact, separating from the service module before reentry.

The command module structure consisted of two shells: an inner crew compartment (pressure vessel) and an outer heat shield, a stainless-steel honeycomb between stainless-steel sheets, light yet rugged enough to withstand the stresses of space travel. Inside the command module was a compact but efficiently arranged combination cockpit, office, laboratory, radio station, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and den.

Nine lunar flights were made between 1968 and 1972. The landmark command module, built by North American Aviation (at the time of launch, North American Rockwell Corporation), flew as Apollo 14 in 1971 and is now on display at the Astronaut Hall of Fame. See ASME website for more information