From Academic Kids

Bell Aerosystems LLRV
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The Lunar Landing Training Vehicle (LLRV)
Role: Research Aircraft
Crew: one, pilot
Length: 22.5 ft 6.85 m
Width: 15.08 ft 4.6 m
Height: 10.0 ft 3.05 m
Empty: 2,510 lb 1,138 kg
Loaded: 3,775 lb 1,712 kg
Maximum Takeoff: 3,925 lb 1,780 kg
Engine (Main): 1 x General Electric
CF-700-2V jet
Thrust: 4,200 lbf 19 kN
Engine (Secondary): 2 x hydrogen peroxide lift rockets
Thrust: 500 lbf 2,200 N
Maximum Speed
(in climb):
40 mph 17.9 m/s
Endurance: 10 minutes 600 seconds
Ceiling: 6,000 ft 1.8 km
Rate of Climb: 3,600 ft/min 17.9 m/s
LLRV Two View Diagram
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LLRV Two View Diagram (NASA)
Bell Aerosystems LLRV

The Lunar Landing Research Vehicle or LLRV was an Apollo Project era program to build a simulator for the Moon landing. The LLRVs, humorously referred to as flying bedsteads (see also Flying bedstead), were used by the FRC, now known as the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to study and analyze piloting techniques needed to fly and land the Apollo Lunar Module in the moon's airless environment.

Success of the two LLRVs led to the building of three Lunar Landing Training Vehicles (LLTVs) used by Apollo astronauts at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas, predecessor of NASA's Johnson Space Center.

Neil Armstrong, first human to step onto the moon's surface, said the mission would not have been successful without the type of simulation provided by the LLRVs and LLTVs.

Built of aluminum alloy trusses, the vehicles were powered by a General Electric CF-700-2V turbofan engine with a thrust of 4,200 lbf (19 kN), mounted vertically in a gimbal. The engine lifted the vehicle to the test altitude and was then throttled back to support five-sixths of the vehicle's weight, simulating the reduced gravity of the moon. Two hydrogen peroxide lift rockets with thrust that could be varied from 100 to 500 lbf (440 to 2,200 N) handled the vehicle's rate of descent and horizontal movement. Sixteen smaller hydrogen peroxide thrusters, mounted in pairs, gave the pilot control in pitch, yaw and roll. As safety backups, six 500 lbf (2,200 N) thrust rockets could take over the lift function and stabilize the craft for a moment if the jet engine failed. The pilot had an ejection seat for safety.

After conceptual planning and meetings with engineers from Bell Aerosystems, Buffalo, N.Y., a company with experience in vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft, NASA issued Bell a $50,000 study contract in December 1961. Bell had independently conceived a similar, free-flying simulator, and out of this study came the NASA Headquarters' endorsement of the LLRV concept, resulting in a $3.6 million production contract awarded to Bell on Feb. 1, 1963, for delivery of the first of two vehicles for flight studies at the FRC within 14 months.

The two LLRVs were shipped from Bell to the FRC in April 1964, with program emphasis on vehicle No. 1. It was first readied for captured flight on a tilt table constructed at the FRC to test the engines without actually flying. The scene then shifted to the old South Base area of Edwards. On the day of the first flight, Oct. 30, 1964, research pilot Joe Walker flew it three times for a total of just under 60 seconds to a peak altitude of ten feet (3 m). Later flights were shared between Walker; another Dryden pilot, Don Mallick; the Army's Jack Kluever; and NASA Manned Spacecraft Center pilots Joseph Algranti and H.E. "Bud" Ream.

NASA had accumulated enough data from the LLRV flight program at the FRC by mid-1966 to give Bell a contract to deliver three LLTVs at a cost of $2.5 million each.

In December 1966 vehicle No. 1 was shipped to Houston, followed by No. 2 in January 1967, within weeks of its first flight. Modifications already made to No. 2 had given the pilot a three-axis side control stick and a more restrictive cockpit view, both features of the real Lunar Module that would later be flown by the astronauts down to the moon's surface.

After testing at the FRC, the LLRVs were sent to Houston, where research pilots learned to become LLTV instructor pilots. In December 1967, the first of the LLTVs joined the LLRVs to eventually make up the five-vehicle training and simulator fleet.

In all, NASA built five LM trainers of this type. During training flights at Ellington AFB near Houston, Texas, three of the five vehicles were destroyed in crashes. Two were an early version called the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle or LLRV. Neil Armstrong was flying LLRV-1 on May 6, 1968 when it went out of control. He ejected safely and the vehicle crashed. A later version was called the Lunar Landing Training Vehicle or LLTV and three were built. Two of these were lost in crashes on December 8, 1968 (piloted by Joe Algranti) and January 29, 1971 (piloted by Stuart Present). The other pilots also ejected safely from the crashing LLTV's.

Donald "Deke" Slayton, then NASA's chief astronaut, later said there was no other way to simulate a moon landing except by flying the LLTV.

LLRV No. 2 was eventually returned to Dryden, where it is on display as a silent artifact of the Center's contribution to the Apollo program.

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Lunar Landing Research Vehicle (LLRV) was used to practice lunar landing tecniques on earth. (NASA)
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Test pilot ejects safely from crashing LLTV (NASA)

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