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Virginia Department of Historic Resources

114-0140 Lunar Landing Research Facility

Lunar Landing Research Facility
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For additional information, read the Nomination Form PDF

VLR Listing Date 02/18/1986

NRHP Listing Date 10/03/1985

NHL Listing Date 10/03/1985

NPS property number 85002808

This simulator facility, constructed in 1965 on the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, was used by Apollo astronauts to practice final descent and touchdown for moon landings. The airy structure, 400 feel long by 230 feet high, is a steel gantry that straddled a simulated moonscape. Suspended within this framework was the full-size, retrorocket-controlled Lunar Excursion Module Simulator (LEMS). Lunar gravity was achieved by traveling cables supporting five-sixths of the LEMS’s earth weight. The remaining one-sixth pull (lunar gravity) allowed the astronaut to “descend” to the surface. Here, on dark nights, with an artificial sun, Neil Armstrong—the first man on the moon—trained for the 1969 lunar expedition. Asked what is was like to land on the moon, Armstrong replied, “like Langley.” The LEMS is on exhibit at the Virginia Air and Space Center in Hampton, while the gantry has been adapted for other types of research.


Abbreviations:
VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark

Updated February 20, 2019