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Apollo Lunar Module
Here is my LDD model of the Apollo Lunar Module. It is built to minifig scale. As always, leave a comment if you like. Check out my flickr page for larger pictures https://www.flickr.com/photos/118702264@N05/. The LDD model is available on my Etsy site: www.etsy.com/ca/shop/KurtsMOCs.
About this creation

The Lunar Module (LM) was the lander portion of the Apollo spacecraft. The LM was designed to transport two astronauts from the Command/Service Module (CSM) in lunar orbit to the moons surface and back.
When I started this project, there were a few design and construction decisions to consider. My main goal was to have the LM as close to minifig scale as possible and to have the structure as functional as possible.


The LM was built by Grumman Aircraft and designed by aerospace engineer Thomas J. Kelly. It was comprised of an octagon-shaped descent stage with landing gear and an irregular-shaped ascent stage that contained the instrument panels and flight controls. The ascent and descent stages measured a combined 18 feet in height (22 feet with the antennas), 14 feet in width and 13.3 feet in depth. Early versions had three landing legs, large windows, seats, and a forward docking port. The three-leg configuration was light but unstable, therefore, a four-leg solution was chosen. The large windows, seats, and additional docking port were removed. Crew in the LM would stand and have smaller viewports for piloting. The removal of the docking port meant that the lunar orbit rendezvous was in the hands of the Command Module Pilot.
The shape and size of the LM was difficult to capture accurately at minifig scale. The limited size and variety of the Lego blocks available posed a challenge to accurately render the complex shapes of the LM.


The internal structure of the descent stage was made from aluminum and titanium. It has four fuel/oxidizer compartments surrounding a central descent engine.
The scale of the model is centred on the internal structure of the descent stage. Here, I established the basic shape and size for the rest of the model. Note the minifig feet (one stud) scale indicating the 5 foot height.


Initially, Pratt and Whitney were contracted to develop fuel cells for the LM, but in the end they were discarded in favour of an all-battery design.
The basic assembly of the descent structure was adapted to accommodate the mounting points for the landing legs, the quadrant payloads, and the external thermal protection.


The descent stage rocket engine used a hypergolic propellant that spontaneously ignites when they come into contact with each other. These meant that there was no additional equipment required. This increased simplicity and saved weight, however, the propellant was so corrosive that the engine required a complete overhaul after each firing. In reality, the individual rocket engine included on each respective LM was never tested before being installed! Its one and only firing was done once the astronauts reached the moon and began their descent.
In the model, the orange canisters contained the aerozine 50 fuel while the green canisters contained the nitrogen tetroxide oxidizer.


The TWR TR-201 descent rocket engine was attached to the internal structure with cross supports. The engine used a throttle to control thrust to give greater control to the LM pilot.
The model includes a cross support bar for the descent engine.


The landing legs for the LM were designed to extend from a retracted position to a landing position. Outrigger struts were mounted to the internal structure and the extension mechanism was operated via a spring.
On this model, I wanted the landing legs to be operable. The original strut and outrigger design of the LM used very slender pieces at a variety of angles. I chose to use a series of pivoting connections to mimic the original design. It is a bit bulkier than the original but all of the elements are functional.


The spaces between these fuel/oxidizer compartments are the quadrants, used to store the oxygen, helium, water, and scientific equipment. The LM carried Modular Equipment Stowage Assembly (MESA) that contained the astronauts excavation tools, sample collection boxes, and a television camera with tripod (ever wonder how those first images of Neil Armstrong stepping on to the moon were taken?). The Early Apollo Surface Experiment Package (EASAP) was located opposite the MESA and carried a deployable antenna and a hand-pulled Modular Equipment Transporter (MET) for sample transportation on longer moon walks. Later versions of the LM also contained the Lunar Rover Vehicle (LRV).
The design of the quadrant spaces caused me the most trouble. I wanted to maintain a consistent appearance on the exterior, which meant I needed to come up with and angled-mounting system. I rotated a Technic 1x1 block 45 degrees and used a knobbed crossaxle to mate the panel to the structure. There are also hinged panels for the MESA and EASAP equipment.


Most of the external surfaces of the LM were covered silver, amber, and black coloured thermal insulation and a micrometeoroid shield. This insulation was comprised of up to 25 layers of aluminized Kapton polymide film foil blankets. Each layer was only 0.00015 inch thick. Engineers at Grumman and NASA had to be careful not to drop tools on the blankets because it could be easily punctured!
In reality, this composite blanket would have been less than an inch thick and thus very difficult to replicate accurately in Lego at minifig scale. Therefore, I chose to use smooth plates to emulate the thermal blankets. Designing an attachment method at this scale was tricky!


Getting onto the moon from the LM cabin was given a lot of attention. Originally, astronauts would use a hand-operated winch to lower and raise themselves to the surface. Even in the moons low gravity, this was not feasible. Therefore, a ladder was mounted to the front (number 1) landing leg.
The ladder and porch for the LM are mounted directly to the descent stage. The model also includes four Reaction Control System (RCS) plume deflectors that direct thrust away from the delicate thermal blankets.


The descent rocket engine was surrounded by a titanium heat shield and thermal blanket to protect the descent stage structure and internal components.
The model includes the titanium heat shield and thermal blankets.


The ascent stage of the Lunar Module is comprised of three main areas: crew compartment, mid-section, and equipment bay. The basic structure is primarily aluminum alloy, chemically milled to reduce weight, with titanium fasteners. Thermal insulation and a micrometeoroid shield envelop the entire basic structure. The crew compartment contains the Commanders flight station at the left and the LM Pilots at the right. The forward hatch is located just below the lower display panels and swings inboard when opened. The cabin must be completely depressurized before the hatch can be opened.
Here, you can see the three main components of the ascent stage in their basic form. For the design of the crew compartment, I had to adjust the depth to accommodate a minifig astronaut. The original compartment depth was increased and the mid-section structure was shortened as a result. Once the ascent stage was assembled, the difference averaged out to be about a half studs width. I can live with this compromise as it allowed me to fit an astronaut in the compartment.


The mid-section is not normally manned; it is traversed by the astronauts upon entering and exiting the LM after docking. The mid-section houses the ascent engine assembly, life support and communication umbilicals on the right side and the waste management system, oxygen purge system, and food storage are located on the left side. Components of the Electrical Power Subsystem (EPS) and the Guidance, Navigation, and Control Subsystem (GN&CS) are mounted on the aft bulkhead.
The mid-section was trickier because it had to include the ascent rocket engine and the overhead hatch. Since I lost about a studs width in overall depth, I had the back wall become part of the aft equipment bay section. By doing this, I could have the full-width overhead hatch and life-support equipment.


The aft equipment bay is an unpressurized area formed by the after mid-section bulkhead and the equipment rack, which is cantilevered approximately 3 feet aft of the bulkhead. ECS and Main Propulsion Subsystem components that do not require a pressurized environment are mounted to the outboard side of the aft bulkhead.
For the model, I included the equipment rack but used bricks to provide the back wall for the mid-section compartment and to give shape to the thermal blankets as it appeared upon completion.


The basic structure of the ascent stage serves as the mounting points for the life support tanks, fuel tanks, the RCS directional control, and communications equipment. The overhead hatch has the docking latch and you can see the Command Pilots observation window in the front assembly.
In this version of the model, the RCS quad clusters, the red Ascent Propulsion System (APS) fuel tank, the RCS oxidizer and fuel tanks (above the APS tank), and Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) on top of the front assembly are shown.


On this side of the model, you can see the RCS quad clusters and the RCS oxidizer and fuel tanks located above the blue APS oxidizer tank.


Here, you can see the equipment rack in the aft equipment bay. There is also a mount for the VHF inflight antenna and the strut support for the S-band steerable antenna.


The spherical APS fuel and oxidizer tanks are quite large, dominating the profile of the LM. The RCS clusters and the aft equipment bay with the electronics are clearly visible from this angle.


The ascent stage has two triangular windows in the front face assembly that are canted down to permit adequate peripheral and downward vision. The windows are comprised of two panes: the outer pane offers protection from infrared and ultraviolet transmission and micrometeoroid penetration and the inner pane is high strength structural glass with a high-efficiency antireflective coating.
This final version of the ascent stage model includes the thermal insulation blankets and micrometeoroid shielding. The rendezvous radar is mounted to the front assembly with the S-band antenna mounted to the left. The VHF and EVA antenna are mounted on the aft equipment bay.


The underside of the ascent stage is covered in thermal blankets to withstand the APS rocket engine temperatures. Other exposed elements, such as struts, were wrapped in the thermal blankets as well.
The different colours of the LM reflect the various types of thermal blankets used to cover the surface. The irregular shapes of the thermal shingles were tricky to capture with Lego bricks.


Here you can see the various antennas and the visual docking target on the left of the docking hatch used by the Command Module Pilot to align the two vehicles.


The final LM model assembled. The tricky part was aligning the RCS quad clusters with the mid-line of the angled quadrant, evenly spaced between the landing legs and projecting far enough away from the descent stage.


The quadrants were a bit of a sacrifice in this model. I had earlier iterations that included larger opening panels but the exterior profile was cluttered in appearance.


In the end, I opted for a smoother external profile. This view highlights the LMs windows and front hatch. Modelling those triangular windows was a challenge!


In total 15 LMs were built, with 10 becoming operational. No LMs were ever lost or suffered significant failure. The landing legs of the model do retract into the main body of the descent stage.


The Lunar Module (LM) was originally called the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) but it was changed in 1966, dropping the word Excursion from the name. Apparently, NASA didn't want the public to think that space travel was frivolous. The aft equipment bay is clearly visible from this angle.


The large APS fuel is beneath the black thermal shingles. Unfortunately, I wasnt able to retain the spherical design beneath a layer of bricks or plates, so I substituted it with the angled bricks. I enjoyed making the LM in different stages of construction, as it allowed me to explore the design in greater detail.


This section shows the internal structure and spaces of the LM. This provides a good view of the small interior spaces the astronauts had in which to work, eat, and sleep. Sitting was considered a luxury and the astronauts slept criss-cross and above one another in hammocks.


On May 18, 1969, Apollo 10 was the first time the LM, nicknamed Snoopy, was in orbit around the moon. This test flight was to see if the LM could rendezvous with the CSM after orbit. Apparently, NASA engineers provided limited fuel to "Snoopy" just in case the astronauts Thomas Stafford and Eugene Cernan decided to land on their own without authorization. If they did, they wouldn't have enough fuel to lift off!


Apollo 11 was the first time that someone set foot on the moon from earth. On July 16, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spent to hours walking upon the moons surface, collecting rock and soil samples to return to earth.


Apollo missions 12 and 14 had increased EVAs and surface exploration. Apollo 13s mission to the moon was cancelled when an exploding oxygen tank crippled the CSM. The LM was used as a lifeboat for the crew as they used the moons gravity to slingshot them on a trajectory back to earth.


The final three Apollo missions, 15, 16, 17, all used the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) to explore further distances from the LM.
My LRV model has folding wheels but is still too large to fit into on the descent stage's quadrants. I'll keep refining it with the hopes that it will someday fit!


The final mission to the moon was Apollo 17. Eugene Cernan was the last person from earth to set foot on the moon. Their LM Challenger lifted off at 5:55pm EST on December 14, 1972. Since then, there has not been another person to walk on the moon.
Thanks to the NASA website and Wikipedia for the information and specifications.



Comments

 I made it 
  November 17, 2016
Quoting Ethan Reed This is really cool. You should try to do the command module as well.
Thanks Ethan, I'm glad you like the model. I've been working on the command module but a good solution for the cone shape still eludes me. Stay tuned, I hope to figure it out soon!
 I like it 
  November 15, 2016
This is really cool. You should try to do the command module as well.
 I made it 
  April 27, 2016
Quoting Oliver Becker Great idea and much and deep love to the item is noticeable, Kurt! Supported! ;)
Thanks Oliver for your support and interest in my work.
 I like it 
  April 27, 2016
Great idea and much and deep love to the item is noticeable, Kurt! Supported! ;)
 I made it 
  March 14, 2016
Quoting Claus Melander Really nice build and fantastic focus on details.
Thanks for your support Claus! I'm glad you like the model!
 I made it 
  March 14, 2016
Quoting David Roberts A very detailed model. I like how you used digital Lego's ability to created exploded views to show us the construction and the features of the build and tell a story too.
Thanks for your support and interest in my work. The section model worked out well and shows several aspects of the design and construction. I like to include a little information about the projects. I think most visitors like to learn something too!
 I like it 
  March 13, 2016
Really nice build and fantastic focus on details.
 I like it 
  March 13, 2016
Really nice build and fantastic focus on details.
 I like it 
  March 13, 2016
A very detailed model. I like how you used digital Lego's ability to created exploded views to show us the construction and the features of the build and tell a story too.
Kurt's MOCs
 I like it 
Matt Bace
  March 4, 2016
Fantastic work on all of the details. I really like how you went "above and beyond" to get the very smooth-looking octagonal shape for the base of the LM. That part could have been done more easily with wedges, but it wouldn't have looked nearly as good.
 I made it 
  March 4, 2016
Quoting Matt Bace Fantastic work on all of the details. I really like how you went "above and beyond" to get the very smooth-looking octagonal shape for the base of the LM. That part could have been done more easily with wedges, but it wouldn't have looked nearly as good.
Thanks for your comments Matt and for noticing those small details of the design.
 I made it 
  March 2, 2016
Quoting Kermunklin the Giant Evil House Head Stang! That's very cool! Well-thought out and well-crafted.
Thanks for your comments Kermunklin! I'm glad you like the model.
 I like it 
  March 2, 2016
Stang! That's very cool! Well-thought out and well-crafted.
 I made it 
  March 2, 2016
Quoting Firas Abu-Jaber Absolutely beautiful! Not only the model itself, but also the way you present it in the main picture. I can see a lot of creative techniques all over your photos, keep this level up. A+
Thanks for your positive comments Firas and I am glad you like the model. I like putting together a small narrative about the model and the building process. I've learned a lot from seeing other people's process work so I wanted to try and pass the same along.
 I like it 
  March 2, 2016
Absolutely beautiful! Not only the model itself, but also the way you present it in the main picture. I can see a lot of creative techniques all over your photos, keep this level up. A+
 I made it 
  March 2, 2016
Quoting Darman Skirta pretty nice
Thanks!
 I like it 
  March 2, 2016
pretty nice
 I made it 
  March 2, 2016
Quoting Green helmet spanish AFOL Its incredibly detailed. Congratulations.
Thanks for your comments!
 I like it 
  March 2, 2016
Its incredibly detailed. Congratulations.
 I made it 
  March 2, 2016
Quoting matt rowntRee So much perfection and love here. Everything about this is frighteningly wonderful, shame it was all fake. XD Just kidding. Stunning!
Hilarious! Thanks for your positive comments and I'm glad you like the model.
 I like it 
  March 1, 2016
So much perfection and love here. Everything about this is frighteningly wonderful, shame it was all fake. XD Just kidding. Stunning!
 I made it 
  March 1, 2016
Quoting Henrik Jensen Really brilliant Work! I like your realistic aproach to making this model as close as possible to the real World. I also enjoyed reading all the technical descriptions. The Pictures however, would benefit from a conversion through POVray.
Thanks for your comments Henrik and I am glad you like the model. As I mentioned to Justin earlier, POVRay doesn't seem to work on my Mac. I'm not the most technically proficient or patient when it comes to configuring software, but perhaps I need to devote a bit of time to figuring it out. Stay tuned: you never know what may happen!
 I like it 
  March 1, 2016
Really brilliant Work! I like your realistic aproach to making this model as close as possible to the real World. I also enjoyed reading all the technical descriptions. The Pictures however, would benefit from a conversion through POVray.
 I made it 
  March 1, 2016
Quoting D H Awesome! Love the detailed walk through!
Thanks for the comments! I'm glad you like the model and the narrative.
 I made it 
  March 1, 2016
Quoting Justin Davies Excellent work! I highly recommend that you both 1. render images of this in POVRay and 2. submit said images to LEGO Ideas...This needs to be an official set!
Thanks for your enthusiastic response Justin! I have toyed with POVRay for a while but I can never get it set up on my Mac. Having one of my models as a Lego kit is a lifelong dream I never knew I had... until now! Perhaps its worth a try. Thanks for your support and encouragement!
 I like it 
  March 1, 2016
Awesome! Love the detailed walk through!
 I like it 
  March 1, 2016
Excellent work! I highly recommend that you both 1. render images of this in POVRay and 2. submit said images to LEGO Ideas...This needs to be an official set!
 I made it 
  March 1, 2016
Quoting Petr Junek very sophisticated model, very nice
Thanks for your comments Petr. I'm glad you like the model.
 I made it 
  March 1, 2016
Quoting Jimmie Martinez Brilliant work. A magnificent model flawlessly executed. The description of he model and the background history of the LM and NASA was also flawlessly done. BOAJEWD.
Thanks for your comments Jimmy. The model went through several iterations before I settled on the final design solution. As I wrote about to Gabor, I enjoy doing the research for these building projects and sharing the experience with like-minded modellers. I'm glad you appreciated the effort!
 I made it 
  March 1, 2016
Quoting Seaman SPb Excellent work!
Thanks for your support!
 I made it 
  March 1, 2016
Quoting Yann (XY EZ) Wow, that's so cool. Great work!
Thanks Yann! I'm glad you like it.
 I like it 
  March 1, 2016
Brilliant work. A magnificent model flawlessly executed. The description of he model and the background history of the LM and NASA was also flawlessly done. BOAJEWD.
 I made it 
  March 1, 2016
Quoting Jan van den Bos A-MA-ZING! I bought your instruction on Etsy
Thanks for your positive comments Jan and your support! I hope you like the model!
 I made it 
  March 1, 2016
Quoting Gabor Pauler I have never seen such a detailed and systematic description of LM ever, even in any spaceflight encyclopedy! Very educational work, worth to teach in school. Congratulations! You made my day.
Thanks for the gracious comments Gabor. I am happy that you liked the model and the information. Part of the fun of building these models is doing the research. I like sharing because it helps others understand my thinking and design process.
 I like it 
  March 1, 2016
Excellent work!
 I like it 
  March 1, 2016
Wow, that's so cool. Great work!
 I like it 
  March 1, 2016
A-MA-ZING! I bought your instruction on Etsy
 I like it 
  March 1, 2016
I have never seen such a detailed and systematic description of LM ever, even in any spaceflight encyclopedy! Very educational work, worth to teach in school. Congratulations! You made my day.
 I made it 
  March 1, 2016
Quoting Jeremy McCreary Superb design and write-up, Kurt! Learned a lot about the LM here.
Thanks Jeremy. I'm glad you liked the model and the write-up. They always said that Lego was educational!
  February 29, 2016
very sophisticated model, very nice
  February 29, 2016
Superb design and write-up, Kurt! Learned a lot about the LM here.
 I made it 
  February 29, 2016
Quoting Misa Nikolic Wow! Another winning design! too many features to process.
Thanks Misa! I'm glad you like the model and design.
 I like it 
  February 29, 2016
Wow! Another winning design! too many features to process.
 
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