After the outstanding success of Apollo 8, there was now the question of which mission would be the first to land on the moon. Shortly after Apollo 8 was back down on earth, Deke Sleyton, the man in charge of the astronauts office, called the crew of Apollo 11 into his office. His message was simple, if Apollo 9 and 10 flew successful missions then Apollo 11 would be the first manned spaceship to land on the moon and one of the three astronauts would be the first member of mankind to set foot on the dusty surface. The crew of Apollo 11 had been given the dream ticket.
The job of the Apollo 9 crew was to test the landing module. Unfortunately for astronauts McDivitt and Schweickart these tests would be carried out in earth orbit so they would not be travelling to the moon. However the 10 days of testing they conducted were vital to the project. The Landing Module was the vehicle that would take Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon's surface and these tests were designed to simulate the docking, undocking and maneuvering that would be required in lunar orbit. The mission was a success and project Apollo had taken another substantial step towards it's place in history.
The Apollo 10 mission was the dress rehearsal for the moon landing. Astronauts Stafford, Young and Cernan would fly to the moon and while John Young waited in the command module (named Charlie Brown for this mission), Tom Stafford and Eugene Cernan flew the landing module (Snoopy) down to just 9 miles above the moon's surface. This allowed them to survey potential landing sites around the Sea of Tranquility before Charlie Brown and Snoopy were re-united in lunar orbit and Apollo 10 flew back to earth.
With Apollo 9 and Apollo 10 missions completed successfully the next two men to orbit the moon would also be landing on it.