Lunar Excursion Module Simulator
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The Lunar Excursion Module Simulator (LEMS), designed and fabricated from 1963 to 1965 at Langley, was a manned rocket-powered vehicle used to familiarize the Apollo astronauts with the handling characteristics of a lunar-landing type vehicle. Suspended from cables from the Lunar Lander Research Facility, the LEMS allowed the astronauts to experience the lunar environment where gravity is only one-sixth of that on Earth. In its earlier test period, the LEMS featured a helicopter crew cabin atop the lunar landing module which the test pilot sat down in and operated the vehicle. Later, the helicopter crew cabin was replaced with a stand-up rectangular cabin. This cabin design was more efficient for controlling maneuvers and for better visual viewing by the pilot. The LEMS was used to help train every astronaut who set foot on the moon.
By 1970, the space race was over and the LEMS was retired and put on display outdoors at the Lunar Lander Research Facility. In 1985, the Lunar Lander Research Facility was designated a National Historic Landmark (NHL) for its significant contributions to the manned space program and the LEMS was identified as a significant historic artifact associated with the NHL. By 1988, having sat in the weather for 18 years, the LEMS was placed in storage due to deterioration and rust. In order to preserve the unique artifact and its historic significance, in 1989, LaRC personnel formed a plan to refurbish and preserve the LEMS. The plan linked NASA LaRC, the Virginia Air and Space Center (VASC), the National Historic Landmarks Commission, and the Governor's School New Horizons Technical Center (NHTC). The LEMS would be delivered to the NHTC which is located down the road from NASA LaRC in Hampton. Selected students would work on the restoration and the final home for the LEMS would be at the VASC. The LEMS Restoration Project first involved forming the NASA LEMS Restoration Advisory Committee, which included members from all four groups. The purpose of the advisory committee was to determine the specifications for restoration of the LEMS to its original, non-flight condition; provide oversight, technical advice and guidance to the NHTC; review and evaluate project progress, and provide any training or material needs for the NHTC. Top students from the school's sheet metal, auto body, drafting, machine shop and metal fabrication departments worked on the restoration for over two years and it was completed in May of 1991 in time for the grand opening of the VASC in 1992. The LEMS is currently on permanent display at the VASC as part of their Spacecraft Exhibit. Photos of the LEMS on display at the VASC are provided by heroicrelics.org.
[top] 1989 Refurbishment
[top] Museum Display
Photos of the LEMS on display at the Virginia Air and Space Center are provided by heroicrelics.org.