Encyclopedia Astronautica
Lunar Landers


Lunar lander design started with the British Interplanetary Society's concept of 1939, followed by Von Braun's 3964 tonne monster of 1953. It then settled down to more reasonably-sized variants. Landers came in three main types: two stage versions, with the first stage being a lunar crasher that would brake the spacecraft until just above the lunar surface, then separate, allowing the second stage to land on the surface; two stage versions consisting of a descent stage that went all the way to the surface, and an ascent stage that would take the crew from the surface to lunar orbit or on an earth-return trajectory; and single stage versions, using liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen propellants.

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Associated Spacecraft
  • BIS Lunar Lander British manned lunar lander. Study 1939. Design of the British Interplanetary Society's BIS Spaceship began in 1937 and was published in January and July 1939. More...
  • Von Braun Lunar Lander American manned lunar lander. Study 1952. Von Braun's first lunar lander design was an immense spacecraft, larger in earth orbit than a Saturn V booster. More...
  • Early Soviet Lunar Lander Russian manned lunar lander. Study 1958. Painting of early Soviet concept of a lunar lander. This was similar to Von Braun designs popular in the 1950's. More...
  • Lunex Lunar Lander American manned lunar lander. Studied 1958-1961. The largest single development objective for the Lunex program was to provide a spacecraft capable of transporting men and equipment to the lunar surface and returning them to a selected earth base. More...
  • Navy SLV American manned lunar lander. Study 1961. The spacecraft for a US Navy lunar landing program that was to place a naval aviator on the moon by 1967. More...
  • Horizon LERV American manned lunar lander. Study 1959. Lunar landing and return vehicle planned to take up to 16 crew to the lunar surface and back in the US Army's Project Horizon of 1959. More...
  • Gemini LOR American manned lunar lander. Study 1961. Original Mercury Mark II proposal foresaw a Gemini capsule and a single-crew open cockpit lunar lander undertaking a lunar orbit rendezvous mission, launched by a Titan C-3. More...
  • Apollo Martin 410 American manned lunar lander. Study 1961. The Model 410 was Martin's preferred design for the Apollo spacecraft. More...
  • Apollo Direct 2-Man American manned lunar lander. Study 1961. A direct lunar lander design of 1961, capable of being launched to the moon in a single Saturn V launch through use of a 75% scale 2-man Apollo command module. More...
  • Gemini Lunar Lander American manned lunar lander. Study 1961. A direct lunar lander design of 1961, capable of being launched to the moon in a single Saturn V launch through use of a 2-man Gemini re-entry vehicle instead of the 3-man Apollo capsule. More...
  • LM Langley Lighter American manned lunar lander. Study 1961. This early open-cab Langley design used cryogenic propellants. The cryogenic design was estimated to gross 3,284 kg - to be compared with the 15,000 kg / 2 man LM design that eventually was selected. More...
  • LM Langley Lightest American manned lunar lander. Study 1961. Extremely light-weight open-cab lunar module design considered in early Langley studies. More...
  • LM Langley Light American manned lunar lander. Study 1961. This early open-cab single-crew Langley lunar lander design used storable propellants, resulting in an all-up mass of 4,372 kg. More...
  • LK-700 Russian manned lunar lander. Chelomei's direct-landing alternative to Korolev's L3 manned lunar landing design. Developed at a low level 1964 to 1974, reaching mockup and component test stage. More...
  • Apollo LM American manned lunar lander. 10 launches, 1968.01.22 (Apollo 5) to 1972.12.07 (Apollo 17). More...
  • L3-1963 Russian manned lunar lander. Study 1963. Korolev's original design for a manned lunar landing spacecraft was described in September 1963 and was designed to make a direct lunar landing using the earth orbit rendezvous method. More...
  • Apollo LM Taxi American manned lunar lander. Cancelled 1968. The LM Taxi was essentially the basic Apollo LM modified for extended lunar surface stays. More...
  • Apollo LM Truck American lunar logistics spacecraft. Cancelled 1968. The LM Truck was an LM Descent stage adapted for unmanned delivery of payloads of up to 5,000 kg to the lunar surface in support of a lunar base using Apollo technology. More...
  • Gemini Lunar Surface Rescue Spacecraft American manned lunar lander. Study 1966. This version of Gemini would allow a direct manned lunar landing mission to be undertaken in a single Saturn V flight, although it was only proposed as an Apollo rescue vehicle. More...
  • Apollo LASS S-IVB American lunar logistics spacecraft. Study 1966. The Douglas Company (DAC) proposed the "Lunar Application of a Spent S-IVB Stage (LASS)". The LASS concept required a landing gear on a S-IVB Stage. More...
  • Apollo SMLL American lunar logistics spacecraft. Study 1966. North American Aviation (NAA) proposed use of the SM as a lunar logistics vehicle (LLV) in 1966. The configuration, simply stated, put a landing gear on the SM. More...
  • L5-1967 Russian manned lunar lander. Study 1967. At a Lunar Soviet meeting in October 1967 preliminary agreement was reached to study a follow-on to the first N1-L3 lunar landings. A new N1 model was to be developed to launch a new 'L5' spacecraft. More...
  • Gemini Lunar Surface Survival Shelter American manned lunar habitat. Study 1967. Prior to an Apollo moon landing attempt, the shelter would be landed, unmanned, near the landing site of a stranded Apollo Lunar Module. More...
  • L3M-1970 Russian manned lunar lander. Study 1970. The first design of the L3M lunar lander had the crew of two accommodated in a Soyuz capsule atop the lander. More...
  • Apollo LPM American lunar logistics spacecraft. Study 1968. The unmanned portion of the Lunar Surface Rendezvous and Exploration Phase of Apollo envisioned in 1969 was the Lunar Payload Module (LPM). More...
  • LLV American lunar logistics spacecraft. Study 1966. Many versions of new Lunar Logistic Vehicles (LLV's) using several possible candidate propellants were studied by NASA and its contractors in the mid-1960's for post-Apollo lunar base support. More...
  • LK Russian manned lunar lander. 3 launches, 1970.11.24 (Cosmos 379) to 1971.08.12 (Cosmos 434). The LK ('Lunniy korabl' - lunar craft) was the Soviet lunar lander - the Russian counterpart of the American LM Lunar Module. More...
  • DLB Beacon Lander Russian lunar logistics spacecraft. Study 1971. In most Soviet manned lunar landing scenarios, versions of the Ye-8 unmanned landers would precede manned landings on the moon. More...
  • L3M-1972 Russian manned lunar lander. Study 1972. Revised L3M design of the L3M lunar lander for use with the Block Sr crasher stage. The Soyuz return capsule was completely enclosed in a pressurized 'hangar'. More...
  • LK-3 Russian manned lunar lander. Reached mock-up stage, 1972. The LK-3 was Chelomei's preliminary design for a direct-landing alternative to Korolev's L3 manned lunar landing design. More...
  • LEK Russian manned lunar lander. Study 1973. Lunar lander for the Vulkan surface base. As in the original LK lunar lander, this would be taken to near zero velocity near the lunar surface by the Vulkan Block V 'lunar crasher' rocket stage. More...
  • LK Energia Russian manned lunar lander. Study 1988. Lunar lander for Energia-launched lunar expedition. The LOK and LK lander would be inserted into lunar orbit by separate Energia launches. More...
  • LEV American manned lunar lander. Study 1989. The Lunar Excursion Vehicle (LEV) figured in numerous NASA studies of the 1980's and 1990's. More...

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