Apollo Lunar Excursion Module 1962
This is the first image in a new series that will depict the design evolution of the Apollo Lunar Module. I have always been fascinated by the many iterations that the lunar lander went through during its conception and development. Spacecraft designers conquered seemingly endless impossible engineering challenges while figuring out how to get people to the Moon and back.
As the early Apollo program was beginning to take shape, NASA engineers were working to decide among three different methods of landing astronauts on the Moon. The mode called Lunar Orbit Rendezvous was chosen. That meant an entirely new kind of spacecraft had to be developed – one that was specifically designed to land on the Moon, then lift off from the surface and rendezvous with a mother ship in lunar orbit.
Spacecraft designers at Langley Research Center, led by Maxime Faget, worked through several designs in the evolution of the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM). This image depicts one of the earliest LEM designs from 1962.