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What was the intended mission of the astronauts in the original Planet of the Apes (1968)? At one point, Taylor mentions that Stewart was supposed to be their "Eve", as if they were going to populate a new (and very inbred) planet. It's hard to tell if they intended to travel to a different planet, or just into the future (and if so, how far did they expect to go into the future).

I just started watching the sequel, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, and the Skipper of the ship that was following Taylor's seems surprised by how far into the future they ended up, which makes me wonder even more, what was the point of their expedition supposed to be, anyway?

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It's pretty hard to believe they would bring just one girl and three men in order to populate a new planet... if you know what I mean. – Bogdan Alexandru Aug 25 '14 at 9:27
I mean it would have had to be like: "Hey Stewart, how about you go on this mission with these 3 gentlemen on a new planet, and they would <<help>> you give birth to as many children as possible during your lifetime, thus rebuilding a human population there..." – Bogdan Alexandru Aug 25 '14 at 9:29
Excellent question...I mean, apparently it's intended to assuage Taylor's bitterness and cynicism about mankind. – Chris B. Behrens Aug 25 '14 at 15:24
up vote 16 down vote accepted

It is a pure exploration travel. From the novel (translated from Spanish version), the professor explains that the travel will last the same (in their subjective time) if they go to Alpha Centauri or to Betelgeuse, and explains why he did chose the latter.

As I am getting older and probably I'll never be able to start another travel like this one, I have prefered to set our destination in a distant star with the hope of finding a world completely different to ours.

Como me estoy haciendo viejo y probablemente ya no tendré jamás la fuerza de emprender otro viaje por el estilo, he preferido dirigirme hacia un punto alejado con la esperanza de hallar un mundo completamente distinto al nuestro.

Also, the protagonist suspects the professor might be wanting to "time travel" using the relativistic speeds away from the present

If we were ever to return, we would find that our planet was seven or eight hundred years older. [...] I ever began suspecting that, for the professor, the perspective of escaping from the men of his generation was another benefit of the enterprise. He did comment often that he was tired of those men...

Si algún día regresábamos, nos encontraríamos con que nuestro planeta había envejecido en setecientos u ochocientos años. Pero esto no nos preocupaba lo más mínimo. Incluso llegué a sospechar que, para el profesor, la perspectiva de escapar de los hombres de su generación era un aliciente más de la empresa. Confesaba a menudo que le cansaban aquellos hombres…

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It is never made clear in either the novel, or the films, exactly what the astronauts mission to what turns out to be the Planet of the Apes was intended to be. The narrative does not expand beyond the details you presented in your question. Even the novel which begins with the discovery of Taylors log doesn't shed additional light on the subject.

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