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  Close up with an Apollo lunar module (LM-9)

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Author Topic:   Close up with an Apollo lunar module (LM-9)
Blackarrow
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From: Belfast, United Kingdom
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 04-20-2012 07:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It occurs to me that most space enthusiasts have had close-up views of Apollo command modules, even if it was through a plexiglas shield, but how many people outside NASA or Grumman have been able to stand a few feet from the windows and hatch of a flight-worthy lunar module?

Here are two photographs I took at Kennedy Space Center in July 1975, when LM-9 (originally intended for Apollo 15) was stored in a building in the industrial area of the space centre. These were never printed at the time because the printing lab considered them faulty (I assume because the flash reflected off the window which separated me from the LM).

I saw these in print-form for the first time in 2010. On looking at them again today, I realised just how close I must have been to the front of the ascent stage (maybe four feet?). Apart from aerospace engineers and anyone else who visited KSC at that time, who else has been so close?

The second picture suggests that the KSC people weren't looking after LM-9 very well. The landing leg struts had clearly seen better days!

I was pleased to see that they had cleaned up LM-9 by the time I saw her again in the Saturn V Center in 2007 (from a greater distance).

APG85
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posted 04-20-2012 08:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for APG85     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Neat!

Rick Mulheirn
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From: England
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posted 04-21-2012 04:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Mulheirn   Click Here to Email Rick Mulheirn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is a recent shot of the LM-9 at Kennedy Space Center's Apollo Saturn V Center to show her "before and after... then and now," so to speak.

Blackarrow
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From: Belfast, United Kingdom
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posted 04-21-2012 05:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The hatch is open! I never noticed that before. (Or has it been removed, and — if so — where is it now?)

space1
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From: Danville, Ohio
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posted 04-21-2012 06:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for space1   Click Here to Email space1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It drives me crazy when I see LM footpads at that weird angle, as if the LM were designed to land in a funnel.

Tom
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From: New York
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posted 04-21-2012 06:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tom   Click Here to Email Tom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Speaking of the footpads, why were the bottoms covered in gold and black foil?

ilbasso
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From: Greensboro, NC USA
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posted 04-21-2012 06:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ilbasso   Click Here to Email ilbasso     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That's the way they were from Apollo 11 onward, gold and black foil, with the black half facing toward the engine.

There was no foil on the footpads on the LMs for Apollo 9 and 10. There were also no plume deflectors for the RCS engines. Obviously the decision was made that better thermal and exhaust protection was needed. I don't know if the design changes were made at the same time or not.

Rick Mulheirn
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posted 04-22-2012 03:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Mulheirn   Click Here to Email Rick Mulheirn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The hatch is still in place. Other shots taken that day from a different angle show the hatch folded right back and just the "hinged" edge is visible.

Headshot
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From: Streamwood, IL USA
Registered: Feb 2012

posted 04-24-2012 01:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't see any landing probes on any of the legs either.

FullThrottle
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From: Seattle, WA, USA
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posted 04-24-2012 01:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FullThrottle   Click Here to Email FullThrottle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When I visited the Apollo/Saturn V Center for the November 2010 scrub of STS-133, the hatch was closed on LM-9. When I came back to Florida again, for the STS-133 launch on Feb. 24 2011, they had the hatch open (to my surprise and excitement, so I got pictures of both displays).

I'm betting ten to one the reason they don't have the landing probes on the LM is because it would be too easy to grab or touch. As it is now, the LM seems "just out of your reach", just like the Saturn V (I did try my hardest to run, jump and touch the Saturn but couldn't). With the extra couple of feet hanging down on the probes you could easily stand on one of the tables underneath the LEM and grab, shake and rattle it. The LM sits right underneath the tables/chairs at the "Moon Rock Cafe" in the Apollo/Saturn V center.

space1
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From: Danville, Ohio
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posted 04-24-2012 03:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for space1   Click Here to Email space1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If you think about it, for all of its life before its current display location, LM-9 was earth-bound with its footpads resting on the ground. There would have been no way to display it with the probes. So much so that NASA sold the probes as surplus. They were apparently sold to Charles Bell many years ago, and from his collection to others in 2000 with the auctions of his estate.

One of the lunar surface sensing probes from LM-9 is currently in my collection. I had obtained it indirectly from a buyer at the Bell estate auction.

Jurg Bolli
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posted 04-24-2012 06:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jurg Bolli   Click Here to Email Jurg Bolli     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This probe is way cool!

FullThrottle
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Posts: 93
From: Seattle, WA, USA
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posted 04-24-2012 06:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FullThrottle   Click Here to Email FullThrottle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One of the original LM leg probes is also in the collection of Blue Origin, and is displayed in their Kent, Washington headquarters building in a little mini-museum of space artifacts that Jeff Bezos purchased.

If I remember correctly the little sign stated that it was from a J-type Apollo 15/16/17 LEM. Very cool to see extremely up close and personal, I don't remember seeing anything like it at Florida's space museums that I visited.

Maybe it also came from the Charles Bell estate?

I remember reading somewhere that the Apollo 11, 12, 13, and 14 probes were a different length than the Apollo 15, 16 and 17 extended mission LEM probes. Which are the longer ones, which are the shorter ones, and why?

space1
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From: Danville, Ohio
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posted 04-24-2012 07:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for space1   Click Here to Email space1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In the past an auction listing for a LM probe told that story about different probe lengths being used. I can't find any official documentation of that. (My spec drawing of the probe only gives one length. And when you look at the Apollo 15 Mission Report (?) in a table of changes with Apollo 15 vs. Apollo 14, among the extensively detailed items there is no mention of the probe lengths changing.)

LM-12
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From: Ontario, Canada
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posted 11-04-2014 07:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Blackarrow:
...two photographs I took at Kennedy Space Center in July 1975, when LM-9 (originally intended for Apollo 15) was stored in a building in the industrial area
Here is a 1976 photo of a LM on display in the Flight Crew Training Building in the KSC Industrial Area. The LM is "not a model but real flight hardware" according to the photo description. So I would say the lunar module shown is most likely LM-9.

Perhaps you took your two photos from the observation deck at top right?

Blackarrow
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From: Belfast, United Kingdom
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posted 11-05-2014 05:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This photograph shows a carefully-arranged lunar landing display. What I saw in 1975 was the original Apollo 15 lunar module in storage, clearly a little the worse for wear. However, the LM I saw had gold-foil insulation on the lower struts of the landing-legs. This vehicle in 1976 didn't. I wonder if the 1976 vehicle had the original ascent stage and a scale model of the descent stage while the original (which was in poor condition in 1975) was being repaired?

On edit: I notice that the LM on display has "bare" lower struts, so unless that descent stage is a replica, perhaps the descent stage in the 1976 photo simply didn't have the original foil replaced?

dabolton
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From: Seneca, IL, US
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posted 11-05-2014 07:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dabolton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Are they any LM replicas that allow you to crawl inside the door into an proper-sized cabin? Its really hard to get a grasp of the interior volume otherwise.

LM-12
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From: Ontario, Canada
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posted 11-05-2014 08:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The LM in the 1976 photo and the hanging LM in Rick's photo look like the same vehicle to me.

Marc05A
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From: Reims, France
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posted 01-30-2018 02:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Marc05A   Click Here to Email Marc05A     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
During my last visit at Kennedy Space Center, I wondered about the interior status of LM-9. Since it was an actual flight-qualified LM, intended to fly on Apollo 15, was the interior equipment installed? Instrumentation, GNC systems, AGC, AGS, etc.

And if so, are those systems still on board today, or were some parts removed to complete other LM? I'd love to see pictures of the interior of this LM.

Editor's note: Threads merged.

Ronpur
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From: Brandon, Fl
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posted 01-30-2018 09:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ronpur   Click Here to Email Ronpur     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No idea about the interior, but having read this thread, I can update it and say they have added landing probes to the LM legs.

damnyankee36
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From: Alamogordo, NM USA
Registered: Aug 2017

posted 01-31-2018 01:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for damnyankee36   Click Here to Email damnyankee36     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Did they straighten out the pads? Seems like the probes sticking out at an angle would look even sillier than the tilted pads!

Ronpur
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From: Brandon, Fl
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posted 02-01-2018 07:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ronpur   Click Here to Email Ronpur     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, they have, so the probes point straight down. And they are high enough so you could not jump and touch them!

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 02-01-2018 07:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Found on Flickr (credit: Dan Davis), a June 2017 photo of the LM-9 display:

ejectr
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From: Spring Hill, FL
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posted 02-01-2018 06:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Who would be stupid enough to jump to touch them. These are priceless relics of the space age. Geesh...

rlobinske
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From: Crawfordville, FL
Registered: Oct 2014

posted 02-02-2018 08:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for rlobinske     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In addition to the landing probes, the recent updates included the MET cover on the MESA and the plutonium pellet casket on the side of the ALSEP housing.

Skythings
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posted 02-02-2018 07:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skythings   Click Here to Email Skythings     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In November of 1982, I visited the Kennedy Space Center for my very first time. I was there for the launch of the STS-5 space shuttle and to of course visit all the amazing history. I could not wait to visit all the exhibits and displays. As a kid I watched all the Apollo missions and wanted to see them up close for myself.

I came away from that visit somewhat disappointed at the time because I felt everything was focused on the new modern shuttle program. The Apollo displays were scattered all over the large facility and I recall the LM was in a room with low ceilings with hardly any lighting and seemed tucked away like it was in storage. I remember saying to myself that I felt it was somewhat disrespectful to forget the great achievements of the Apollo program and not honour them properly. Everything at the time was all about the shuttle.

Here is a picture of the LM I took in in November 1982 and it appears to be in the same building you visited in 1975 Geoffrey (Blackarrow).

The Saturn V was outside rotting in the elements and you could only see it from the bus on the tour. Here is a picture I love including the non applicable road sign.

The Skylab milkstool service gantry was parked way out in a vacant lot and only visible on the bus tour. Here is a bad picture I took. I had to take two pictures and cut and paste to get this image (remember it was 1982).

In November 2000 I visited again for the launch of STS-97 and NASA certainly redeemed themselves. There was the Saturn V Building which is amazing and what I expected but was missing in 1982. I was saddened to not find the milkstool and learn it had been dismantled.

Ronpur
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From: Brandon, Fl
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posted 02-03-2018 11:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ronpur   Click Here to Email Ronpur     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Things were very similar in 1988 on my first visit. They had put the CSM from Skylab Rescue in the same room as the LM by that time. And the Saturn V was in even worse shape.

What really sucked about the LM/CSM was that you were being rushed into the firing room mock up and had hardly any time to see them.

Fra Mauro
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From: Bethpage, N.Y.
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posted 02-05-2018 05:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I remember being in that same room around 1991 and just seemed like a place where they dumped the LM and CSM. Glad they didn't scrap them!

rlobinske
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Posts: 108
From: Crawfordville, FL
Registered: Oct 2014

posted 02-06-2018 07:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for rlobinske     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is a Facebook gallery of LM-9 taken from multiple visits over the years, including the latest additions of landing probes, MET cover and the RTG fuel pellet cask.

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