Apollo 9Apollo 9 lifts off on a ten-day mission to test the first lunar lander, but only in Earth orbit. Jim McDivitt and Rusty Schweickart put the lunar module, nicknamed Spider, through its paces, while David Scott mans the command module Gumdrop. This is the first flight of the completely non-aerodynamic lunar module, and various docking maneuvers and spacewalk scenarios are practiced. The crew returns to Earth in the Apollo command module, while Spider is left in a low orbit which decays two weeks later, allowing it to disintegrate in Earth’s atmosphere.

This mission is dramatized in the Spider episode of HBO’s 1998 series From The Earth To The Moon.