Sunday, November 1, 2009

Where's Snoopy?

"Snoopy" then lunar module from the Apollo 10 mission has not been seen for over 40 years. A dress rehearsal for a Moon landing brought astronauts Thomas Stafford and Eugene Cernan within 8.4 nautical miles (15.6 km) from the lunar surface. After returning it's crew back to "Charlie Brown", the Apollo 10 Command Module, the ascent stage of "Snoopy" was launched into heliocentric orbit making it the sole intact lunar module ascent stage remaining out of the Lunar Modules sent into space. The Apollo 5, 9 and 13 LM ascent stages burned up in Earth's atmosphere, the Apollo 11,12,14,15, 16 and 16 LM ascent stages crashed onto the Moon.

Maybe some day, Snoopy will be found again. It's orbit around they Sun occasionally brings it back into the vicinity of the Earth-Moon system (perhaps every 11-12 years), but it will be very difficult to spot. At least one of the much larger Saturn S-IVb third stages from the Apollo Lunar missions may have paid us a visit in 2002 (Apollo 12 - J002E3).

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