What Apollo 15 Got Right
A post-splashdown scandal did not undermine the mission’s scientific achievements.
- By Diane Tedeschi
- AirSpaceMag.com, May 13, 2011
Apollo 15 was a step up for NASA's lunar exploration program. Launched in July 1971, it was the first Apollo mission to use a manned rover, enabling astronauts Dave Scott and Jim Irwin to explore the moon’s surface with a battery-powered four-wheeler boasting an onboard computer for navigation. On earlier landing missions, the astronauts toured the moon only on foot, which limited how far they could stray from their landing sites. Apollo 15’s service module also was the first to be equipped with a Scientific Instrument Module, which command module pilot Al Worden put to good use during his time in lunar orbit, photographing the moon with a high-resolution camera and mapping the chemical composition of the lunar surface. See the gallery above for highlights from Scott, Irwin, and Worden's mission.
Pictured: Apollo 15 lunar module pilot James B. Irwin, command module pilot Alfred M. Worden, and commander David R. Scott (left to right) during ocean recovery training for their lunar mission. All three came from the U.S. Air Force. Scott, who had flown on Gemini 8 and Apollo 9, was making his third trip to space, while Worden and Irwin were rookies.