Ohio Valley Soaceport

Ohio Valley Soaceport

Friday, October 19, 2012

Lost Opportunities: Missions That Never Flew- Part 1: Shelab

Illustrations commissioned by Grumman to depict advanced lunar module/taxi's

For this month's installment of The Ohio Valley Spaceport I would like to launch a short series of articles on modeling space missions that never flew but, were on the drawing boards of NASA and the U.S. Air Force in the 1960's.

During the heyday of Project Apollo NASA had and its contractors produced many amazing concepts for American lunar bases, advanced spacecraft concepts based on Apollo hardware, and vehicles that could have been developed and utilized had funding and U.S. government policy turned out differently in the 1960's and 70's. Below is a chart from David Shayler's book 'Apollo: The Lost and Forgotten Missions'. This chart illustrates NASA post-Apollo plans from the assumption that funding and public interest remained at the same level as it was in 1965.
Those were the days... manned lunar bases in the 1970's, missions to Mars in the 1980's, nuclear-powered NOVA rockets...
One of the projects NASA was seriously considering in the 1960's were post-Apollo lunar bases using up-rated Apollo lunar modules. There were actually two advanced initiatives under the Apollo Applications program:   Apollo Logistical Support System (ALSS)and Lunar Exploration System for Apollo (LESA). Much of the hardware and logistics for ALSS were incorporated in the last three Apollo moon missions (Apollo 15. 16, and 17) with lunar rovers and uprated LM's. The more intriguing concepts on the NASA drawing boards were concepts of extended lunar missions with vehicles and hardware designed for two-week to one month stays on the lunar surface. Hardware such as a lunar "taxi" for transferring crews two and from lunar orbit to the surface,lunar "hopper's", rocket packs, and large roving mobile laboratories were all a part of the LESA program..
A lunar "hopper" concept by the Bell Company

Many of these concepts are quite interesting to me and have served as a basis for "kit-bashing" scale models of them. Over the coming months I will showcase modeling projects in 1/72 scale that reflect some of these lofty yet plausible designs. For part one I will feature a model of a lunar shelter concept  based on the descent stage of the Apollo lunar module called 'Shelab'. Shelab was developed in 1964 by the Hayes International Corporation under a contract from Marshall Spaceflight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Shelab with lunar roving vehicle. Virtually a pressurized lab and rover supported by a lunar module descent stage.

The Shelab module
I used as the foundation a 1/72 scale lunar module kit from Airfix. The pressurized lab was from the Revell 1/24 Vostok kit. Oxygen tanks were from 1/48 Gemini fuel cells. The rover was essentially a modified tow tractor from a 1/72 scale air base diorama.

1/72 scale Shelab view from above. The rover ramp is movable!

Elevation 1 of the Shelab

Elevation 2 showing details of the rover ramp.
Elevation 3 of the Shelab.

Elevation 4
Close up of the Shelab rover.

Future installments in the series will include a 1/72 scale LESA LM Taxi, 1/72 Gemini Manned Orbiting Laboratory, and a 1/72 scale model of the Dyna Soar space shuttle.

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