Apollo 10 approaches splashdown, 50 years ago today. It landed upright, a position called Stable One. The Apollo capsules could also land flipped like a turtle, apex in the water, a position called Stable Two. In that case, three balloons inflated to flip it over.
We return just after dawn
We fall softly through in the warm Pacific dawn,
400 miles east of Pago Pago
Stable one — we come down true.
A low but lifting yellow-orange sunlight in our eyes,
captures us in the moment.
That’s Apollo 10, home
fifty years ago today,
home with a vision of the moon
colored in warm tans
rather than Apollo 8’s cold grays.
We showed our mission to the world
in color, pushing to include a Westinghouse camera
weighing twelve pounds only ready and installed
in the spacecraft ten days before launch.
We are the first crew to show actual mission events,
transposition and docking with the lunar module
after launch, undocking of the LM in lunar orbit,
seventeen broadcasts during the mission,
allowing the world to journey with us.
Here we are
stepping on the carrier deck of the Princeton,
stable one after 8 days, 3 minutes, 23 seconds,
In the golden light of sunrise, faces aglow,
the last step before the first step
just fifty-five days away.
In Apollo and as in life, you’re either
Stable one or stable two.
We’re all creatures of the moon.