Working on the Moon -
        Lessons from Apollo

Copyright 2007-14 by Eric M. Jones, Ken Glover, and Ulli Lotzmann.
All rights reserved.  Last revised 24 February 2014


Working on the Moon (WOTM) is derived largely from the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal and, like its parent, is a work in progress, a "living" document.  During the six successful landing missions, a great deal was learned about living and working in the lunar environment but, for those who have not studied the missions and/or the ALSJ in detail, it can be difficult to find material relevant to a particular topic of interest, say, astronaut mobility or real-time interactions between the crews and ground support staff.  To help make lessons learned during Apollo lunar surface operations more accessible, WOTM is organized by topic.  Each topic-specific section of WOTM will include a discussion of relevant lessons learned across the six missions, a set of links to pertinent locations in the ALSJ, and a list of other references.

Comments and suggestions are always appreciated. Please let us know about errors, about the clarity and utility of the material, about additional topics that should be addressed, or sources of relevant information.  Feedback should be sent to the following address:

Table of Contents

1 Summary and Acknowledgments

2 Environment and Equipment

2.1 The Lunar Work Environment

2.1.1 Surface Materials: Dust and Regolith - formation, depth, particle characteristics, compaction, adhesion
2.1.2 One-sixth gravity - training methods, adaptation, reaction times
2.1.3 Thermal environment
2.1.4 Lighting and Visibility
2.1.5 Terrain (partial version updated 24 February 2014)
2.1.6 Radiation environment

2.2 Apollo Extravehicular Mobility Unit

2.2.1 Suit - construction, flexibility, convolutes/bellows, gloves, visor assembly, durability
2.2.2 Portable Life Support System (PLSS) - stores and usage of oxygen, water and power, carbon dioxide removal, cooling, communications
2.2.3 Oxygen Purge System
2.2.4 Buddy Secondary Life Support System (BSLSS)
2.2.5 In-suit Food and Drink

2.3 Lunar Roving Vehicle

2.3.1 Design and construction
2.3.2 Deployment
2.3.3 Operational constraints
2.3.4 Walkback constraints
2.3.5 Navigation System
2.3.6 Operational experience   (A16 Traverse Speeds added 19 January 2010)

2.4 Lunar Module

2.4.1 Habitat Characteristics
2.4.2 Consumables
2.4.3 Internal Stowage Temporary Stowage Bag ("McDivitt Purse")
2.4.4 External stowage and equipment deployment
2.4.5 Waste Management
2.4.6 Up and Down the LM Ladder
2.4.7 Equipment Transfer

2.5 Communications Systems

2.5.1 Radio
2.5.2 Television

2.6 Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP)

2.6.1 Stowage, off-loading, fueling
2.6.2 Transfer to the deployment site
2.6.3 Deployment and deployment tools
2.6.4 Training
2.6.5 Timeline development, allocation of time to tasks, making allowances for field conditions

2.7 Auxilliary Equipment

2.7.1 Lens Brush
2.7.2 Dust Brush
2.7.3 Jettison Bag

2.8 Geological Investigations

2.8.1 Methodology
2.8.2 Training
2.8.3 Tools and Containers  Sample Collection Bag (SCB) Use in team sampling or solo sampling; running inventory of contents; design disadvantages; equivalents for future missions

2.8.4 Tool Stowage Handtool Carrier (HTC) Modular Equipment Transporter (MET) Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) Suit and PLSS

2.8.5 Cameras and Film Photographic Film Imagery Weights Total weights of cameras, film, and related gear compared between Apollo 11 and Apollo 17

2.9 Emergency Equipment and Procedures

2.9.1  Oxygen Purge System

2.9.2  PLSS Malfunction Procedures

2.9.2  Buddy Secondary Life Support System (BSLSS)

2.9.3  Emergency Return to the LM

2.9.4  LCRU Configuration for Walkback

2.9.4  Safety Tether

2.9.5  Mission Rules related to lunar stay and EVA

2.10  Ground Support

3. Work Experience

3.1 Living in the LM

3.1.1 LM as a Habitat
3.1.2 Sleep
3.1.3 Cabin Temperature
3.1.4 Food
3.1.5 PLSS Recharge

3.2 Dust

3.2.1 Accumulation observed on suits, gloves, rover, tools
3.2.2 Dispersal
3.2.3 Adhesion (partial version added 06 January 2010)
3.2.4 Thermal effects
3.2.5 Abrasion and fouling
3.2.6 Cleaning Brushing the LRV TV lens
3.2.7 Mitigation
3.3 Astronaut mobility

3.3.1 Gaits
3.3.2 Speeds (partial version added 10 January 2010)
3.3.3 Grabbing, kneeling, falling, and getting up
3.3.4 Picking objects off the surface
3.3.5 Traction
3.3.6 Working on slopes
3.3.7 Tripping hazards - cables, experiments, rocks, craters.  Think about the difference between Al Bean's attitude and Jack's behaviour.  Did Jack go backward or sideways much?
3.4 Astronaut dexterity

3.4.1 Glove fit and flexibility
3.4.2 Finger sensitivity
3.4.3 Grip against internal pressure
3.4.4 Skin abrasion and fingernail damage
 3.5 Navigation

3.5.1 Estimating distance and size
3.5.2 Terrain effects
3.5.3 Visibility of crater rims and ejecta
3.5.4 Using the Rover navigation system
3.5.5 Visibility relative to sun angle and elevation

3.6 Training

3.6.1 Crew rotation, training cycle
3.6.2 Procedural training
3.6.3 Investigative/skill training
3.6.4 Fidelity of simulations, especially those done in 1-g
3.6.5 Differences between 1-g and 1/6th and how much 1-g helps
3.6.6 Developing the timeline, allocating time to tasks, making allowances for field conditions
3.6.7 Nomenclature, deciding on a name for each item to avoid confusion

3.7 Equipment/procedural issues

3.7.1 Cables
3.7.2 ALSEP - which experiments were easy to deploy, which weren't and what characteristics differentiated them.  For example, pete had no trouble deploying the SWE but they had a lot of trouble with the SIDE/CCIG
3.7.3 Instability of the erectable S-Band antenna during alignment (added 8 Feb 2010)
3.7.4 LRV deployment
3.7.5 Drilling Tasks
3.7.6 Tools
3.7.7 Fastenings Velcro Duct Tape Boyd Bolts Pip Pins

3.7.8 Cameras and photography

3.8 Thermal Effects

3.9 Wear and Tear - EMUs and other equipment

3.9.1  Documenting Wear and Tear

3.10 Interactions with the Ground Support

3.10.1  Mis-Communication - when to use radio protocol? can technology help?  The Mars problem.

3.11 Building on the experience of prior crews

3.11.1 Live television
3.11.2 Debriefing

3.12 Workloads, Timelines, Checklists, Decals

3.13 Mission-to-mission increases in productivity

3.14 Medical considerations

3.15 Fun

3.15.1 Radio Banter

3.16 Effects of Lunar Landing, Cabin Depressurization, RCS Hot-Fire Check, and Liftoff

3.16.1 Visibility during Landing Visibility During the Lunar Landings Outgassing and Dust Lofting from the Lunar Surface after Descent Engine Shutdown

3.16.2 Dust Scouring and Dispersal by the Descent Engine Exhaust - photographic evidence, surface brightening, dark trails
3.16.3 Effects visible in LMP window Ascent Film - flag motions, thermal blankets and other debris motion, dust dispersal Flight of an A15 Thermal Blanket and Its Near Miss of the ALSEP

3.16.3 Effects visible in LRV TV - flag motions, debris motion, dust dispersal, dust on TV lens?
3.16.4 ALSEP Observations
3.16.5 Flag and debris motion during cabin depress and RCS hot-fire check