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Mission Moon 3-D

Explore the lunar surface as the Apollo astronauts did, in vivid stereoscopic detail.
Astronaut Jim Irwin works at the Lunar Roving Vehicle during the first Apollo 15 moonwalk on July 31, 1971. This view aims northeast, with Mount Hadley in the background, and was taken by mission commander Dave Scott.
Fifty years ago, men traveled a quarter of a million miles through space, and set foot for the first time on our planet’s Moon. Today, this outrageously bold adventure seems as shiny and new as if it were yesterday. It still captures the imagination of kids of all ages — witness the ever-popular LEGO model of a Saturn rocket and the capsules that took men on an epic voyage.

In retelling the story of the space race, its tragedies and triumphs, the Moon landing in July 1969, and the missions that followed, we will take you on a journey in a way never possible before. In our new book, Mission Moon 3-D, we give perspectives on both sides of that scramble to reach the Moon, including stories that could never be told until now. And for the very first time, those stories can also be told through 150 newly created Victorian-style stereo pairs of photographs, viewable in glorious 3D. You can use the OWL stereo viewer that comes with our book, or order one through (where the book is also available).

In one of history’s most famous pictures, Buzz Aldrin stands on the lunar surface, gazing at the checklist taped to his wrist. In his helmet visor we see the reflection of Neil Armstrong taking the picture, as well as the Lunar Module Eagle and Buzz’s shadow. Although many have assumed this spectacular photograph was carefully planned to capture an image of two astronauts and the LM, the moonwalkers dismissed it as a lucky shot. Few have ever seen this famous picture in 3D. The image was masterfully converted into 3D by David Burder, and re-edited here just for this project.
Here is just a sampling of the images and a brief glimpse of the narrative text. On these pages, you will see some “mono” photographs that need no special apparatus to view. But interspersed among them are the side-by-side pairs of photographs that will give you a uniquely powerful three-dimensional perspective — which Charlie Duke himself has described as making him feel almost as if he were back on the surface of the Moon, as he was in 1972.

The challenge
The whole enterprise began as a rare thing, when John F. Kennedy addressed a joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961. “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal,” said the president, “before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”
Apollo 8 on the pad at twilight.
This set off a race between the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, each of whom wanted to demonstrate Cold War superiority. Early in the game, the Soviet program was far ahead of the Americans, with the first satellite (Sputnik 1), the first man into space (Yuri Gagarin), the first spacewalk (Alexei Leonov), and many other firsts. And the Soviet Union had a full-blown expectation of landing explorers on the Moon before the Americans could.

The wheels began to accelerate for what would become the Apollo program, the U.S. attempt to land astronauts on the Moon, even as other preliminary programs took place. Mercury astronauts entered low-Earth orbit, circling the globe. Launch facilities and control centers were built.

Americans graduated to the Gemini program, a two-seated capsule that would allow practice maneuvers later to be used for the Moon shot. All the while, the Soviet Union raced ahead with their accomplishments: the Vostok program, expansion of an enormous launch facility in Kazakhstan, and the ambitious Voskhod spacecraft.

Setbacks and successes
Both sides discovered that the exploration of space, the pushing of the envelope, was a dangerous and unpredictable business. Lives were lost in jet aircraft crashes, including that of Gagarin. An explosion at the Soviet Baikonur Cosmodrome killed dozens. The death of the chief Soviet rocket designer, Sergei Korolev, stalled the program, as did fatalities such as the loss of the Soyuz 1 pilot, Vladimir Komorov.

Such tragedies brought the Soviet program almost to a standstill. Meanwhile, the Americans experienced disaster when the Apollo 1 spacecraft, in a fully outfitted drill, caught fire, killing its three occupants: Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee.

Commander Pete Conrad descends the ladder of the LM Intrepid, about to become the third man to walk on the Moon, on November 19, 1969, during Apollo 12. He was about to say the legendary words, “Whoopee! Man, that may have been a small one for Neil, but that’s a long one for me!”
By late 1968, however, NASA and the American program surged ahead, incorporating lessons learned from the Apollo 1 fire. At year’s end, NASA prepared for the first circumlunar test, Apollo 8, with Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot Bill Anders.

The mission went off successfully, with the crew getting close-up views of the lunar far side, circling our neighbor in space, and returning to Earth for a splashdown two days after Christmas 1968. Not only did the crew see — and photograph — Earth rising over the Moon, but they famously read a biblical creation story on Christmas Eve, sending chills through many of the listeners.

Two more significant tests were left before humans could set foot on the Moon. Apollo 9 would test spacecraft components, the pairing of the Command/Service Module and the Lunar Module (LM), and would test engines and docking procedures. That crew consisted of Commander Jim McDivitt, Command Module Pilot Dave Scott, and Lunar Module Pilot Rusty Schweickart. In March 1969, the mission flew without a hitch.

And then came Apollo 10, in which NASA conducted a full dress rehearsal, set for May 1969. This mission carried Commander Tom Stafford, Command Module Pilot John Young, and Lunar Module Pilot Gene Cernan. The Apollo 10 crew flew to the Moon, sent the Lunar Module on a descent, and tested everything without actually landing. NASA was now ready for the main event.
The Apollo 14 LM Antares reflects a circular flare caused by brilliant sunlight over the Fra Mauro highlands. Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell said the unusual ball of light had a jewel-like appearance. At far left is the lower slope of Cone Crater.
Finally, the Moon
The crew of Apollo 11 — Commander Neil Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, and Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin — blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center on July 16, 1969. The world watched. After a three-day cruise to the Moon, the astronauts prepared for their historic landing.

Armstrong piloted the LM as Aldrin navigated. The two nearly ran out of fuel during their descent, leaving just enough for the return trip. Aldrin called out, “Contact light.” Moments later, Armstrong blurted out, “Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed.” On the ground, gripped by suspense, Charlie Duke, acting as a communicator, replied, “Roger, Twan — Tranquillity, we copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot.”

Some two and a half hours later, Armstrong and Aldrin prepared for the first-ever moonwalk. Armstrong descended the LM’s ladder, stepped onto the Moon’s powdery surface, and said, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” He and Aldrin planted a U.S. flag, sampled and collected Moon rocks, and explored the Sea of Tranquillity. Their time the lunar surface lasted 49 minutes. Returning to lunar orbit, and then to Earth, the Apollo 11 crew splashed down in triumph.

Six more missions followed the first Moon landing, all of which made for exciting adventures. Apollo 12, with its crew of Pete Conrad, Dick Gordon, and Alan Bean, lifted off near the end of 1969. On the Moon’s surface, Conrad and Bean explored the Ocean of Storms, an area visited earlier by several unmanned missions. This second lunar mission allowed the moonwalkers to explore for nearly eight hours.

This stereo view of the Lunar Roving Vehicle was made by Dave Scott during the third Apollo 15 moonwalk. It appears against the desolate lunar surface at the Hadley Rille landing site, and faces north. The western edge of Mount Hadley is at upper right.
A temporary setback
By the spring of 1970, the Apollo program was rolling ahead at full speed. Launch for Apollo 13 was set for April. This mission would set a course for exploring Fra Mauro, a geologically interesting region. The crew of Commander Jim Lovell, Command Module Pilot Jack Swigert, and Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise launched and set off for the Moon.

Some 56 hours after blastoff, the three conducted a TV interview and then set off on tasks. Swigert stirred the oxygen tank on the Service Module, a routine job that mixed the gases and allowed the gauges to read with precision. Two minutes later, the astronauts heard a “pretty loud bang.” The spacecraft lost oxygen. The crew had to power down the Command/Service Module and use the LM as a “lifeboat,” circling around the Moon without landing, and returning to Earth.

The world watched, hoping a disaster wouldn’t happen. Lovell said the crew were aware they could become “human Popsicles in permanent orbit.” But the Apollo 13 accident was not fatal — the crew, assisted by controllers, returned safely to Earth.

So it would be Apollo 14 that would explore Fra Mauro, the intended site of the previous mission. Alan Shepard, Stuart Roosa, and Edgar Mitchell explored the area in detail, collecting samples, studying geology, and accomplishing what Apollo 13 had planned to do.

The final three Apollo missions, which took place in 1971 and 1972, employed one of the most creative devices yet made by humans, the Lunar Roving Vehicle. These most expensive of cars were carried, folded up, on the LM, and utilized by the astronauts on the surface, to extend their range considerably.

Neil Armstrong stands beside the LM. Also visible are the U.S. flag and the solar wind experiment, which was flown on all the Apollo missions.
In the case of Apollo 15, astronauts Dave Scott, Alfred Worden, and Jim Irwin explored the area of Hadley Rille, a ridge near the edge of Mare Imbrium, and not far from the prominent craters Archimedes, Aristillus, and Autolycus. Equipped with a rover, the range was now so great that exploration and rock collecting became far more powerful. Among the samples they gathered was what they believed to be an old Moon rock they dubbed “Genesis Rock.” The Apollo 15 crew also left a memorial statue to their deceased comrades on the surface, the Fallen Astronaut Memorial.

With its crew of John Young, Ken Mattingly, and Charlie Duke, Apollo 16 conducted serious science on the lunar surface. Exploring the Descartes Highlands, the mission focused on sampling older lunar material that might provide clues to the Moon’s origin.

The end of an era
Similarly, Apollo 17 focused on an extensive science mission, this time focused on the Taurus-Littrow Valley. Its crew of Gene Cernan, Ron Evans, and Jack Schmitt included the only scientist ever to walk on the Moon (Schmitt). Extensive exploration and collecting netted a great collection of samples, and ultimately the Apollo Moon rocks enabled planetary scientists to understand that the Moon originated in a large impact between Earth and a planetesimal early in the history of the solar system.

On December 19, 1972, the crew of Apollo 17 splashed down. We have not been back to the Moon since, in nearly 50 years. Will humans someday return, and will politicians and the public return to caring more about science, and funding it?

That remains to be seen. In late 1972, the Apollo program had reached the end, and humans had traveled to the Moon, at least for a half century, for the last time.

The London Stereoscopic Co.

Explore from home

Mission Moon 3-D: A New Perspective on the Space Race, by David J. Eicher and Brian May, foreword by Charlie Duke, afterword by Jim Lovell, presents the story of the historic lunar landings and the events that led up to them, told in text and 3D images. 

Mission Moon 3-D contains new and unique stereoscopic images of the Apollo Moon landings to show what it was like to walk on the lunar surface. The triumph of the Apollo 11 Moon landing takes center stage, with detailed stories and visually stunning images from the six lunar missions that followed. In total, the book includes 150 stereo photos of the Apollo missions and space race, the largest group ever published, and presents photos never seen before in stereo. 

The book also delivers a comprehensive tale of the space race. New stories appear from the astronauts, including Lovell’s anecdotes about the perilous return of Apollo 13. 

Mission Moon 3-D includes a history of the social and musical movements of the ’60s and beyond that transformed the world, from Vietnam and Woodstock to Live Aid. Don’t miss out on this unique treasure, available online at

A view of the damaged Apollo 13 Service Module taken prior to splashdown. This image is essential to understanding what happened: An entire panel was blown off by the oxygen tank explosion, and the interior damage was substantial. In this view, the S-band antenna is visible above the damaged area, and on the right side are the Service Propulsion System engine and nozzle.


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