Over the summer, the Science & Engineering Library welcomed an addition to its collection of engineering student projects. A 1/4 scale model of the Apollo Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) can now be seen prominently displayed by the entrance to S&E. This model was made in 1989 for the TV mini-series “From Earth to the Moon,” and afterwards was acquired by the Aerospace Legacy Foundation. Over the years of storage, the model fell into disrepair but was recently restored by a team of Dr. John Kosmatka’s aerospace engineering undergrads, led by fourth year student Tony Tran. The restoration took the students a total of 40 hours of work over a period of two weeks, and gave them a unique perspective on early US space technology. Tony says he learned about the basic structure of the LEM itself and also “how to manage [my] time”.
Before landing in S&E, the model was displayed at this summer’s San Diego Fair, along with the Library’s Space Shuttle thermal protection tile.
The original LEM, built for the Apollo moon missions in the 1960’s, was used to transport the crew from the main spacecraft (Command Service Module or CSM) while in lunar orbit. There were two components of the LEM: Descent and Ascent. Only the upper portion, Ascent, was used to return the astronauts back to the CSM. After docking, the Ascent stage was discarded in lunar orbit and the Descent stage was left on the moon.
During the fateful Apollo 13 mission, the LEM saved the crew’s life after an explosion damaged the CSM, preventing a lunar landing.
To learn more, come by and see the model along with photos and diagrams.