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Project LOLA or Lunar Orbit and Landing Approach was a simulator built at Langley to study problems related to landing on the lunar surface. It was a complex project that cost nearly $2 million dollars. It was a visual simulator to provide a pilot with visual cues encountered while navigating and controlling a spacecraft in the vicinity of the moon. The pilot provided control inputs to the simulated spacecraft. Closed circuit television was used with viewing cameras mounted to move relative to four star-field models, providing the pilot four viewing ports. Training prepared pilots for lunar orbit, descent form orbit, landing approach, and abort situations. Built in 1964 in Building 1220, the simulator was removed in 1978.



Several models were constructed for the program. Model 1 was a 20-foot-diameter sphere mounted on a rotating base and is scaled 1 in. = 9 miles. Models 2, 3,and 4 were approximately 15x40 feet scaled sections of model 1. Model 4 was a scaled-up section of the Crater Alphonsus and the scale is 1 in. = 200 feet. All models were in full relief except the sphere.

The twenty-foot sphere simulated what the surface of the moon would look like from 200 miles up. The machine consisted primarily of a cockpit, a closed-circuit TV system, and four large murals or scale models representing portions of the lunar surface as seen from various altitudes. The pilot in the cockpit moved along a track past these murals which would accustom him to the visual cues for controlling a spacecraft in the vicinity of the moon.



Artists used paintbrushes and airbrushes to recreate the lunar surface on each of the four models comprising the LOLA simulator.


Test subject sitting at the controls


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