A rare photograph of the LM Spider, the first vehicle intended solely for use in space and on the airless Moon but not able to land on Earth.
Apollo 9 was the first manned spaceflight of the Lunar Module. Photographed by David Scott from the Command Module Gumdrop, the LM Spider, piloted by Schweickart and McDivitt in lunar landing configuration, is flying upside down in relation to the Earth below, with its landing gear deployed and its surface sensors extending from the footpads.
Spider was built of wafer-thin metal: the “ugly bug” as it was often called was so frail that its flanks would crumple if subjected to flight in Earth’s lower atmosphere. (Mason, pg. 152)
It was the first time astronauts were flying in a spacecraft not designed to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere; consequently redocking with the CSM Gumdrop was essential.
Attempting to describe the cool courage of McDivitt and Schweickart when they went off for the first time over the horizon in the unlandable LM, some observers declared it “the bravest act since man first ate a raw oyster.” (NASA SP-350, pg. 194)