Ohio Valley Soaceport

Ohio Valley Soaceport

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Lost Opportunities: Missions That Never Flew-part 3: LM Taxi

A 1966 Grumman Corp Illustration of a LM Taxi Concept

I think the most "heady" years of NASA was between 1962-1967. NASA planners dreamed up an amazing array of post-Apollo applications projects that had they been funded would have moved space exploration closer to the visions in the 1968 movie '2001'. Among the more serious Apollo Application studies dealt with the establishment of a lunar base for sometime in the mid-1970's. Planners were looking at a two-level development of what would eventually lead to a moon base. The first level was called Apollo Logistic Support System (ALSS). For ALSS two vehicles were envisioned: 1) a LM "truck" that carried a shelter (like the Shelab from a previous installment) and 2) a LM "taxi". The goal of the ALSS program was to utilize an architecture that would allow astronauts to stay on the lunar surface for up to 14 days.
For this installment I am featuring the LM Taxi concept. Essentially the LM Taxi was an uprating above the J-mission LM's used in Apollo's 15, 16, and 17. The Taxi concept would shuttle crews to an ALSS base or more advanced Lunar Exploration System base. This uprated Taxi would include additional water, oxygen, LH2, and LOX tankage . The LM Taxi would land near a lab/shelter where the crew would transfer for stays from 14 to 90 days.

An artist rendering of a LM Taxi- note the added tankage on the -X quadrant

Another illustration featuring the modifications of an Apollo LM Taxi-concept

LM Taxi Concept in 1/72 Scale

For my LM Taxi concept I chose the 1/70 scale Apollo Lunar Module kit by Tamiya. For years I had the perception that this kit (first issued in the 1970's) was at the high level of accuracy and detail of more contemporary Tamiya kits. When I acquired a recent re-issue I was somewhat dismayed at how woefully inaccurate this kit really was. I really wasn't interested in kit-bashing a more accurate 1/72 scale Airfix or the more recently released Dragon LM's so the Tamiya LM was my choice for modification.

The recent incarnation of the old Tamiya 1/72 Apollo
Based the final look of my LM Taxi based on illustrations made in 1960's publications. I chose to paint my LM white with black markings.

An illustration of a LM Taxi landing at a LESA lunar base from a 1960's Time-Life book on space travel

Below are photos of the finished kit along side the kit of an Apollo 'Shelab'.


A detail look at the additional tankage for the LM Taxi


The complete diorama of a early 1970's ALSS lunar base concept

The Henry Crown Space Center- Chicago, Illinois

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Henry Crown Space Center which is a part of the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Illinois. I have wanted to visit this museum for a number of years and finally was able to see it a few weeks back. Featured in the Crown Space Center wing of this museum are a couple of historic, flown spacecraft: Mercury/Aurora 7 flown by U.S. Astronaut Scott Carpenter in 1962 and Apollo 8: the first manned spacecraft to orbit the moon in 1968.Among some of the other displays was a full-scale lunar module mock-up, a space shuttle nose compartment, and various scale rocket models.  Below are a few photos of the hardware on display.

Apollo Command Module

Apollo 8 CDR Frank Borman's Suit

Aurora 7

The heat shield has been partially removed to view interior equipment

Interior of Aurora 7

Apollo LM Mock-up

1 comment:

  1. Hi, not sure if my last comment made it. Love your ALSS models.

    A few years ago i built and add on for the Orbiter spaceflight simulator. It allows you to fly all sorts of spacecraft, including apollo mission. The add-on covers the lm-taxi, lm-truck, lm-hab. It also covers the much larger LESA base and cargo carriers.

    You may like to check them out once you master Orbiter a little.