March 3 to March 13, 1969 It's easy to forget about Apollo 9, a 10-day jaunt in the earth's orbit, after the high drama of Apollo 8. But it's Apollo 9 that many people refer to as the connoisseur's mission. The first joint test of both the gumdrop-shaped Apollo spacecraft and the spidery lunar module (the crew even nicknamed the ships Gumdrop and Spider), the mission required the astronauts to execute some of the trickiest flying ever attempted. While Jim McDivitt and Rusty Schweickart soared off in the lunar module, Dave Scott (who had survived the Gemini 8 spin-out) took solo control of the command module, making him the first American astronaut to fly alone since the pioneering days of Mercury. The pas de deux between the bright silver command module and the crinkly gold lunar module made for spectacular pictures the result of even more spectacular piloting.