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(Top) Lunar Landing Research Facility in 1974
Neil Armstrong at Lunar Landing Research Facility, Feb. 12, 1969
Photo courtesy of NASA

The Lunar Landing Research Facility at the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, permitted the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to train the Apollo astronauts to fly in a simulated lunar environment. NASA hoped to accomplish President Kennedy's goal of a moon landing by 1969 through a lunar orbit rendezvous (LOR). The LOR called for a single Saturn V launch of two spacecraft into lunar orbit--one remaining in orbit while the other descended to the moon. The LOR plan was based on the idea that NASA-trained astronauts could master the techniques of landing the the lunar excursion module (LEM) on the moon's surface and returning to orbit to dock with the mother ship.

The Rendezvous Docking Simulator provided training in docking the spacecraft while the Lunar Landing Research Facility was designed to solve the problem of how to land the men on the surface of the moon. Prior to the creation of this facility there existed no direct parallel between the unique piloting problems of the LEM and normal aircraft operating in Earth's atmosphere. Conditions encountered by the LEM were different due to the moon's lack of an atmosphere and low gravitational force. Experiences gained by the Apollo astronauts at the Lunar Landing Research Facility showed that it was possible to successfully master the necessary skills needed to land the LEM on the moon. Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin trained here for many hours, mastering the complex skills before NASA approved plans for their historic moon landing in July 1969.

The Lunar Landing Research Facility, a National Historic Landmark, at Langley Research Center is located at 100 NASA Rd. in Hampton, Virginia. It is closed to the public. Please visit Langley's website for further information.

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