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Blue Dot 135: Apollo 9

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NASA

In our third installment of Blue Dot's look back at Project Apollo for the 50th anniversaries of the missions, we examine perhaps the most overlooked of all, Apollo 9. Astronaut Rusty Schweickart, Apollo 9 Lunar Module Pilot, joins Dave to talk about the ambitious test flight that paved the way for Neil Armstrong's one small step, just over four months later.

Along with Commander Jim McDivitt and Command Module Pilot Dave Scott, Schweickart helped the crew test the lunar module in its maiden voyage into space, the first rendezvous and docking of the two Apollo spacecraft and the first test of the spacesuits that would be worn by the moonwalkers.

Schweickart suffered from an intense bout of space sickness that nearly curtailed much of the mission's objectives but recovered to have an amazing few minutes alone outside the spacecraft orbiting the Earth with nothing to do but contemplate his place in the vastness of space and time.

Dave Schlom has taught the physical sciences at Corning Union High School since 1991. A lifelong amateur astronomer and astronomy educator, he has a passion for both the earth and the space sciences, which are the principal areas of focus for guests on Blue Dot. He started doing radio interviews on space and astronomy topics for local stations like KFM and KPAY in the 1980s and into the 90s, where he was a popular go-to guest for local radio personalities. He is also an expert on the history and geology of Lassen Volcanic National Park, where he has served as a volunteer for decades. Dave enjoys a quiet life at home with his partner in life, Cheryl, and their two dogs, Elvis and Pearl, at their Red Bluff residence.