Today in History... Apollo 9 is launched

Commander Jim McDivitt, Command Module Pilot David Scott, and Lunar Module Pilot Rusty Schweickart formed the crew of the first Apollo mission of 1969, which was a crucial precursor to landing on the moon.

The main purpose of the mission, which took place in low orbit around Earth, was to test out various pieces of equipment to make certain that they were up to the rigours of moonlanding.

In particular, the crew was testing the limits of the lunar module, and it proved to be up to the rigours of the job. The crew also performed EVAs (extra-vehicular activities), notably for Schweickart to test the new Apollo spacesuit, the first to have its own life support system with no need for connection to the spacecraft.

The mission is naturally remembered primarily for moving one stage closer to Apollo 11. Nevertheless, a mission such as this has memorabilia significance in its own right.

The signatures of McDivitt, Scott and Schweickart are coveted, and form central parts of some documents featuring various astronaut signatures which sold at Bonhams last year for between $1,000 and $6,000, though obviously moonlanding astronauts are more influential.

Likewise any material taken out into space in an EVA will remain very valuable. A Russian cosmonaut spacesuit merely designed for EVA use has been valued at €75,000.

Those interested in memorabilia from pioneering, pre-moon-landing missions, may be interested to know that a signed photo of the Mercury  7 is currently available.



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