First-Hand:Recollections of the Apollo and Lunar Module simulators

Submitted by Edward Martin

The basic design of the Apollo & Lunar Module simulators was carried out at General Precision-Link’s ‘Kirkwood Plant’ in Binghamton NY. Link had a facility in Sunnyvale CA that to my understanding was responsible for some of the optics design (I was not personally involved in the optics design process). The design of the star field was accomplished by J.A. LaRussa, Farrand Optical, Valhalla NY—who has since died; the man was a genius at optical design (the ‘Pancake Window’ was another of his designs).

The Principal Engineer for whom I worked at Binghamton was Arthur Dahlberg. Another was James Burke and J.C. Nist.

Among engineers on the team in 1965: Hal Gabriels (passed), Sam Dock, Evan Reindl, Gary Preston (a job-shopper from NYC), Stephen Trencansky.

Del Cobleigh was a junior engineer who happened to be TDY at the Cape when the Apollo fire killed the three astronauts.

I have found a five-page, type-written directory that was published around the 1965 time frame that has many more names, plus then-current addresses. The names I’ve included above were gleaned from one of my Design Handbooks (I’ve got my Design Handbooks from June 1965 on—we’d moved from Apollo on to the LEM by that time).

Personally, my primary responsibility was for the simulation of the Inertial Measurement Unit and In-flight Alignment and for vehicle control during the descent phase of the Lunar Module (MIT’s control laws were eventually read into the simulator from the tape once they were available, but we had to initially implement our own to get the simulators fielded and tested).