The goal as laid down by President John F. Kennedy was simple—land a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. But, before men could be launched aboard the Apollo spacecraft, test flights had to be made, including one on this day in history.
Before May 28th, 1964, the Saturn I rocket had five test flights, but SA-6 or A-101, was the first of these to carry a boilerplate Apollo spacecraft. This was not a fully functional craft, but featured the shape, weight and design that a completed one would.
After a pair of aborted attempts, SA-6 blasted off from Cape Canaveral. One engine cut off early about two minutes into the launch, but by burning other engines slightly longer, the flight went off without a hitch otherwise.
The spacecraft made over 50 orbits around the Earth. Four more Saturn I test flights would follow, all a important small step in helping American astronauts reach the moon by 1969 as part of the Apollo program.
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