Apollo Lunar Surface Journal
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Lunar Equipment Conveyor (LEC)

Copyright 2004 by Eric M. Jones.
All rights reserved.
Last revised 14 January 2014.


Origin of the LEC

The following discussion comes from the Apollo 11 review done with Neil and Buzz in Santa Fe in 1991:

Armstrong - "(The LEC) was a piece of equipment that did not exist - was not planned - until we were someplace in the middle of our training cycle. And we were not confident about our ability to transfer articles to and from the cabin and the surface. I can't remember who devised this idea, but it was devised collectively by our EVA planning group. It was a jury-rig that we collectively devised."

Aldrin - "It was needed. There wasn't another solution to the problem. Didn't it do the job reasonably well?"

Armstrong - "Yeah, it did."

Aldrin - "It wasn't very professional."

Armstrong - "It was a bit of a jury-rig, but it did the job."

Aldrin - "I guess one problem was that it tended to carry up dust? It didn't have a pulley, you just lifted at the top. Or did it have a pulley?" (see below)

Armstrong - "It was a flat nylon strap, as I remember..."

Aldrin - "Didn't it just go through the AOT guard, or did it have a pulley?"

Armstrong - "I don't remember. It may have been some kind of a cylinder with a hook."

Aldrin, from the 1969 Technical Debrief - "There are alternate ways of bringing things up, other than by the LEC. I think there is promise of being able to bring things up over the side (of the porch); straight up, versus making use of the LEC. We didn't have the opportunity to exercise those."

The Apollo 11 style LEC was used on Apollos 11 through 15; although, beginning with Apollo 14, the astronauts sometimes carried equipment up and down the ladder by hand. The Apollo 16 and 17 crews flew with only a simple lanyard with which they raised and lowered the Equipment Transfer Bag with its cargo of relatively fragile cameras at the side of the porch, as Buzz had suggested. None of the astronauts had clear memories of the LEC attachment hardware that was used in the cabin.


The LEC

Flown Apollo 11 LEC
Labeled version of NASA photo S69-37994 showing components of the flown Apollo 11 LEC prior to stowage
The LEC was a flat, woven strap about one inch (2.5 cm) wide. There was a carabiner (or 'snap lock' or, simply, a 'hook') at each end. Initially, the LMP kept the carabiners in the cabin.. A simple pulley - a metal tube cut slightly longer than the strap width - with two metal hooks attached was used to secure the LEC to a yellow handgrip (aka PLSS Upper Mounting Station Pin) in a recess in the cabin ceiling. Midway along the strap between the two carabiners, a separate, short loop was attached to the main strap, possibly as a handle for the CDR's use when he took the LEC outside and almost certainly as a marker for the midpoint.

Prior to deployment, the LEC was stowed in nested cloth bags.

NASA photo S69-37994 ( 269k ) shows the LEC positioned on the parts of the inner bag, which will be assembled with Velcro fastenings.

NASA photo S69-37995 ( 242k ) shows the inner bag partially assembled.

NASA photo S69-37996 ( 257k ) shows the inner bag fully assembled.

NASA photo S69-37997 ( 248k ) shows the outer stowage bag containing two 'waist tethers', each with a small carabiner at one end and a larger carabiner at the other end. Note that the outer bag, itself, is equipped with a short strap and carabiner. The waist tethers were intended for use during an EVA transfer to the Command Module, had there been a problem with docking. For Apollo 11, the crew intended to attach one to the spare Hasselblad that Buzz was to place on the cabin floor just inside the hatch during the EVA so that the free end of the tether could be hooked to the porch handrail and the camera could be lowered into reach, as shown in a labelled detail from training photo S69-31114. Sometime either before the flight or before the EVA, they decided to attach the tether to the porch rail without attaching the camera, probably because of high confidence in the EVA Hasselblad.  A labelled detail from AS11-40-5886, one of Neil images of Buzz descending the ladder, shows both the LEC and the waist tether.  During the rest period, Neil used one of the waist tethers as a sling to hold his feet up.

NASA photo S69-37999 ( 253k ) shows the outer bag with the large waist-tether carabiners packed on either side. The two smaller waist-tether carabiners, the two waist-tether straps, and the outer bag strap and carabiner fill the central part of the outer bag.

NASA photo S69-37998 ( 283k ) shows the outer bag with the LEC carabiners and pulley added. The inner bag is out of frame to the left.

NASA photo S69-38000 ( 312k ) shows the inner bag in place prior to closure of the outer bag.

LEC deployment and Use

Journal Contributor Karl Dodenhoff has located a drawing which shows both the attachment hardware in the LM cabin and the attachments for the cargo. The attachment in the cabin involved a cylindrical fitting in the cabin overhead. This diagram prompted Journal Contributor Markus Mehring to suggest that "from a psychological point of view, the mechanism is not in their constant field of view, they just encountered it much too rarely throughout the mission to keep it in mind. This should have been a hint for us where to look for it in the first place, it just had to be somewhere behind them, or possibly above them." Gary Neff calls attention to the yellow rod in Apollo 15 photo S71-40733. The photo was taken during close-out of LM-10 prior to stowage in the Apollo 15 stack. Photo courtesy of John Duncan and Gary Kitmacher. The LEC drawing, indicates that the two hooks on the simple LEC pulley were fitted over this rod.]

[Training photo S69-32232 shows Neil operating the LEC while Buzz watches. During the mission, Buzz was always in the cabin during LEC operations.]


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