Sep 14

Space Rocket History #177 – Apollo 9 – Preparations

The biggest concern before Apollo 9 was the docking maneuver.  In early 1969, at NASA there was little confidence in the docking system. At a January program review, Phillips said that problems encountered during probe and drogue testing worried him…

The Command Module probe and the Lunar Module Drogue

The Command Module probe and the Lunar Module Drogue

McDivitt & Schweickart practice in the LM simulator

McDivitt & Schweickart practice in the LM simulator

Schweickart in the spacesuit with the backpack

Schweickart in the spacesuit with the backpack

Lithograph print of the negative that flew on Apollo 9, with signatures of Grumman engineers and mechanics

Lithograph print of the negative that flew on Apollo 9, with signatures of Grumman engineers and mechanics

Jul 23

Space Rocket History #122 – Apollo: Serious Problems with the Lunar Module and Grumman

Toward the end of January 1967, it was revealed that Lunar Module 1 would not reach the Cape in February, as expected. This meant, the moon landing might be delayed because the lander was not ready. But the mission planners could not wait for the Apollo engineers to iron out all the problems. They had to plan for a landing in 1969 and hope that the hardware would catch up with them.

Lunar Module Diagram

Lunar Module Diagram

John Disher Explains the Components of the Apollo Program

John Disher Explains Apollo Components

Lunar Module Test Article LTA-2R

Lunar Module Test Article LTA-2R

Jul 02

Space Rocket History #119 – Apollo: Lunar Module Design – Part 3

At various stages of lunar module design, mockup reviews were conducted to demonstrate progress and identify weaknesses. These inspections were formal occasions, with a board composed of NASA and contractor officials and presided over by a chairman from the Apollo office in Houston.

Rendezvous Radar Antenna

Rendezvous Radar Antenna

TM-1 Mockup of the LEM

TM-1 Mockup of the LEM

Lunar Module in the Stack

Lunar Module in the Stack

Panel Separation by Explosive Charge

Panel Separation by Explosive Charge

Removing the LEM

Removing the LEM

Jun 17

Space Rocket History #118 – Apollo: Lunar Module Design – Part 2

The Lunar Lander originally had two docking hatches, one at the top center of the cabin and another in the forward position, or nose, of the vehicle, with a tunnel in each location to permit astronauts to crawl from one pressurized vehicle to the other…

A rope instead of a ladder?

A rope instead of a ladder?

Ladder works better than a rope.

Ladder works better than a rope.

Improved Lunar Module

Improved Lunar Module

Jun 11

Space Rocket History #117 – Apollo: Lunar Module Design

Since the lunar module would fly only in space (earth orbit and lunar vicinity), the designers could ignore the aerodynamic streamlining demanded by earth’s atmosphere and build the first true manned spacecraft, designed solely for operating in the spatial vacuum.

Lunar module generations from 1962 to 1969

Lunar module generations from 1962 to 1969

James Webb examines models of the LEM and CM

James Webb examines models of the LEM and CM

Underside of LEM descent stage shows fuel tank installation

Underside of LEM descent stage shows fuel tank installation

LEM Descent Stage

LEM Descent Stage

Mockup of LEM cabin with seats

Mockup of LEM cabin with seats

1964 Version of LEM, No Seats and Triangular windows

1964 Version of LEM, No Seats and Triangular windows

LEM Sleep Stations

LEM Sleep Stations

Apr 30

Space Rocket History #111 – Apollo: Early Lunar Module Design and Saturn SA-3”

During 1962, NASA faced three major tasks: first the mode selection and its defense (covered in episodes 106-109), second keeping North American moving on the command and service modules (covered in episode 110) and third finding a contractor to develop the separate landing vehicle required by that approach.  Which we will cover today in episode 111.

One-eighth scale Lunar Module shown by Grumman

One-eighth scale Lunar Module shown by Grumman

Bell Aerospace Lunar Landing Research Vehicle

Bell Aerospace Lunar Landing Research Vehicle

Saturn SA-3 Launch

Saturn SA-3 Launch