Apollo Flying Single Seat on the Moon: One Project Story


    This is what the first guided rover of the Apollo 15 mission looked like. And it could have had a jet engine wings .

    From the very beginning of the “lunar project”, NASA planned several stages of human exploration of the Moon, if I may say so. The first stage is just a round-trip flight of a spacecraft with a person on board. To test the technical feasibility of such a trip.

    Then, subject to the successful completion of the first stage, scientific expeditions were also planned, with the landing on the moon’s surface of a person, and a subsequent survey of the landing region. Of course, it would have been a bit to get through the legs, so the use of the vehicle was planned from the very beginning of the project.

    NASA tried to foresee a lot, and therefore several versions of rovers were simultaneously designed at the same time. At the same time, third-party organizations were involved, for example, Bell Aerosystems. It was this company that created the project of a flying lunar rover with a jet engine (by itself, not the most powerful, otherwise it would have been possible to fly away in an unknown direction).

    Early lunar vehicle concepts



    From the very beginning, some experts suggested creating a platform for one person, with a reactive principle of movement (the engine would work on compressed air). The key point of the whole system was to be balance: it would not be very good if in the first test flight on such a vehicle the astronaut would fly upside down.

    In general, all this has been developed since 1951, and projects of various types (not only flying vehicles) were offered quite often. So, engineers from the Marshall Flight Center offered a mobile laboratory, known as MOLAB, in 1964.

    In addition, Ford engineersNASA immediately offered a range of worm-shaped rovers. True, these rovers would be ideal for long work on the Moon, and not for one-time work. Therefore, the project failed.

    Well, for missions of medium duration, Bell Aerosystems offered a flying machine, which was discussed above. It was a minimalistic device, which, in principle, was perfectly suited for covering large distances with minimal resources.

    By the way, at first it was assumed that the astronaut would be in a sitting position, but then it was decided that it was best to create a “standing” apparatus. The resource of such a device is 30 flights, with a total distance (along all routes in general) of 20-30 kilometers. The balance, as mentioned above, was supposed to be ideal, and the astronaut could control the movement of the apparatus along all axes.


    This is how the researchers of the Moon could soar if the design of the flying device would pass.

    The flying vehicle was also good because in case of unforeseen circumstances, the astronauts could quickly return to the landing module.

    The final version of the design of the flying module was rated as very reliable, its reliability was rated as "three nines" on the NASA scale. This is a very high mark, which means that 99.9% of the device’s total operating time works perfectly.

    At the same time, the device was developed taking into account the fact that people in uncomfortable spacesuits with thick gloves on their hands will collect it. Among other things, the apparatus had to be folded so that during transportation it would occupy the minimum volume of the spacecraft.

    Everything was kind of perfect, and after the Apollo 11 expedition, experts confirmed that the flying machine is ideal for lunar conditions.

    Rovers, not flyers



    But things did not go as planned. The fact is that three months before the completion of Bell Aerosystems research (the project was proposed by the company on April 7, 1969), Werner von Braun founded a team to design the rover. Von Braun believed that the rover, a more traditional vehicle model, is better suited for the moon than a flying device.

    And almost immediately after the start of work on the design of the rover, a contract was signed with Boeing to create such a device. As you know, the first of three lunar rovers reached the moon with Apollo 15 in 1971. Field tests have shown that the rover is a successful project, and this concept was used in the future.

    So, unfortunately, the astronauts were not able to fly alone on the moon. And it would be interesting, the history of lunar exploration could be a little different.

    Via dvice

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