Milestones:Grumman Lunar Module, 1962-1972


Date Dedicated
Dedication #
Bethpage, New York, U.S.A.
IEEE Regions
IEEE sections
Long Island
Achievement date range

Grumman Lunar Module, 1962-1972

The Lunar Module
Pat McMahon, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems and Charles Rubenstein, IEEE Region I Director, unveiling plaque
Grumman Lunar Lander Model-1-.jpg
Schematic of Grumman Lunar Lander.jpg
Grumman Lunar Lander S-Band Antennas.jpg
Grumman Lunar Lander Front Cabin.jpg
Grumman Camera On Grumman Lunar Lander.jpg

The Grumman Lunar Module was the first vehicle to land man on an extraterrestrial body, the Moon. Because it was designed to fly solely in space, its design, construction and testing continuously pushed the technology envelope for lightweight metals and unique electrical and electronic systems resulting in one of the most important and successful engineering achievements of mankind.

The milestone plaque may be viewed at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, Battle Management and Engagement Systems' Headquarters, Building 25, 600 Grumman Road West, Bethpage, NY 11714, where some of the Grumman Lunar Module engineering was executed. Building 25 is next to the original Grumman building 5 where the Grumman Lunar Module was built and tested.

A photograph of the dedication ceremony can be seen at: Also see: Lunar Module ceremony brochure 1; Lunar Module ceremony brochure 2; Attendees at Lunar Module milestone dedication.

Most people can tell you where they were when the Grumman Lunar Module landed on the moon. In addition to throngs of people crowding highways and beaches near the launch site, millions watched the event on television around the world. This historic and revolutionary engineering project captured the imagination of people all over the world. After winning a contract in 1962, nearly 3,000 Grumman engineers and more than 7,000 people in all created more than a dozen hand-built lunar modules fulfilling President John F. Kennedy's vow to put a man on the lunar surface by the end of the decade. The Apollo 11 space flight landed the first humans on Earth's Moon on July 20, 1969. The mission, carried out by the United States, is considered a major accomplishment in human exploration and represented a victory by the U.S. in the Cold War Space Race with the Soviet Union. Apollo 13 was the third Apollo mission intended to land on the Moon. That mission, launched on April 11, 1970, was aborted as a fault in electrical equipment inside one of the Service Module's oxygen tanks produced an explosion which caused the loss of both tanks' oxygen, depriving the Service Module of electrical power. This forced the crew to shut down the Command Module to conserve its batteries and oxygen needed for the last hours of flight, and use the Grumman Lunar Module's resources during the return trip to Earth. Despite great hardship caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat, shortage of potable water, and the critical need to jury-rig the carbon dioxide removal system, the crew returned safely to Earth on April 17 as a result of the magnificent engineering expertise which built the Grumman Lunar Module.

The Grumman Lunar Module was the first vehicle to land man on an extraterrestrial body, the Moon. Because it was designed solely to fly in space, the Grumman Lunar Module was made of lightweight metals and unique electrical and electronic systems. The design, construction and testing of the Grumman Lunar Module continually pushed the technology envelope and resulted in one of the most important and successful engineering achievements of mankind. Some of the electrical and electronic accomplishments related to the Grumman Lunar Module included a unique environmental control system that maintained the module interior temperature between 65 and 70F. The Grumman Lunar Module had a robust landing radar and computer system that measured the delay between the transmitted and reflected microwaves from the Lunar surface and calculated accurately the Grumman Lunar Module's proximity to the lunar surface. The Grumman Lunar Module's ascent stage's radar antenna also received transmissions from the Command Surface Module's transponder and calculated the Grumman Lunar Module's precise position and speed during docking. The guidance computer used on the Grumman Lunar Module was the first computer to use Integrated circuits in its design.

The Grumman Lunar Module had S-band 2-Gigahertz high-gain antennas that made possible the transmission of the live images from the moon's surface. These flush-mounted antennas transmitted and received all S-band signals during near-Earth operation and served as backup for the high-gain antenna in deep space. Four antennas were mounted on the command module. The Grumman Lunar Module program also developed critical software for mission analysis and simulation, guidance and trajectory control, an abort guidance control, and a backup communications system.

The Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems sector, then the defense and electronics business of Westinghouse, manufactured the camera used to broadcast the now famous images from the lunar surface to earth. Initially, the camera was attached to the modular equipment stowage assembly (MESA), which was lowered to a position off to the side of the module’s ladder. After Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were on the moon’s surface, the camera was placed on a tripod and moved to a location that would capture an overall view of activities. The engineer and the camera itself received television’s prestigious Emmy award.

References and Further Reading

Human Space Travel primary sources (oral histories, first-hand accounts) by people involved in the technologies of human space travel.

Kelly, Thomas J. (2001). Moon Lander: How We Developed the Apollo Lunar Module (Smithsonian History of Aviation and Spaceflight Series). Smithsonian Institution Press. ISBN 1-56098-998-X

Baker, David (1981). The History of Manned Space Flight. Crown Publishers. ISBN 0-517-54377-X

Brooks, Courtney J., Grimwood, James M. and Swenson, Loyd S. Jr (1979) Chariots for Apollo: A History of Manned Lunar Spacecraft NASA SP-4205.

Sullivan, Scott P. (2004) Virtual LM: A Pictorial Essay of the Engineering and Construction of the Apollo Lunar Module. Apogee Books. ISBN 1-894959-14-0

Stoff, Joshua. (2004) Building Moonships: The Grumman Lunar Module. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-3586-9

Stengel, Robert F. (1970). Manual Attitude Control of the Lunar Module, J. Spacecraft and Rockets, Vol. 7, No. 8, pp. 941–948.

Pullo, Frank ; Salvarezza, Michael, ATTS - ATLAS template translation system, AUTOTESTCON '86; Proceedings of the International Automatic Testing Conference, San Antonio, TX; UNITED STATES; 8-11 Sept. 1986. pp. 211-216.

Proposal and Nomination

Milestone-Proposal:Grumman Lunar Module

Milestone-Nomination:Grumman Lunar Module

Letter from the site owner giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property.

Grumman Lunar Lander Milestone Support Letter

Advocate Approval


Loading map...