Encyclopedia Astronautica
LM Langley Lightest

LM Langley Lightest
Langley Lunar Lander
Credit: © Mark Wade
American manned lunar lander. Study 1961. Extremely light-weight open-cab lunar module design considered in early Langley studies.

This version used cryogenic propellants to get a single crewman from lunar orbit, to the lunar surface, and back, at an all up mass of only 1,460 kg.

Earliest lunar orbit rendezvous schemes involved use of one or more extremely lightweight, unpressurized lunar landers to each take a single astronaut to the lunar surface. This Langley design was the absolute minimum considered. Others ranged from 3,284 kg to 4,372 kg - to be compared with the 15,000 kg design that eventually was selected.


Crew Size: 1.

Gross mass: 1,460 kg (3,210 lb).
Unfuelled mass: 460 kg (1,010 lb).
Payload: 100 kg (220 lb).
Height: 2.90 m (9.50 ft).
Specific impulse: 433 s.

More... - Chronology...

Associated Countries
See also
  • Lunar Landers Lunar lander design started with the British Interplanetary Society's concept of 1939, followed by Von Braun's 3964 tonne monster of 1953. It then settled down to more reasonably-sized variants. Landers came in three main types: two stage versions, with the first stage being a lunar crasher that would brake the spacecraft until just above the lunar surface, then separate, allowing the second stage to land on the surface; two stage versions consisting of a descent stage that went all the way to the surface, and an ascent stage that would take the crew from the surface to lunar orbit or on an earth-return trajectory; and single stage versions, using liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen propellants. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • NASA Langley American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. Langley, USA. More...

Associated Propellants
  • Lox/LH2 Liquid oxygen was the earliest, cheapest, safest, and eventually the preferred oxidiser for large space launchers. Its main drawback is that it is moderately cryogenic, and therefore not suitable for military uses where storage of the fuelled missile and quick launch are required. Liquid hydrogen was identified by all the leading rocket visionaries as the theoretically ideal rocket fuel. It had big drawbacks, however - it was highly cryogenic, and it had a very low density, making for large tanks. The United States mastered hydrogen technology for the highly classified Lockheed CL-400 Suntan reconnaissance aircraft in the mid-1950's. The technology was transferred to the Centaur rocket stage program, and by the mid-1960's the United States was flying the Centaur and Saturn upper stages using the fuel. It was adopted for the core of the space shuttle, and Centaur stages still fly today. More...

  • Baker, David, The History of Manned Spaceflight, Crown, New York, 1981.
  • Brooks, Courtney G, Grimwood, Hames M, Swenson, Lloyd S, Chariots for Apollo, Government Printing Office, 1989. Web Address when accessed: here.

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