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Google Earth Plug-in: Lunar Landing Research Facility, Hampton, Virginia

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This essential facility allowed NASA to train Apollo astronauts to fly in a simulated lunar environment. Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin and 22 other astronauts used the facility to practice piloting problems they would encounter in the last 150 feet of descent to the surface of the moon. It was built in 1965 and was basically an A-frame structure with a gantry used to manipulate a full-scale Lunar Excursion Module Simulator (LEMS).

The astronauts were also able to practice walking on a simulated lunar surface, as the base of the Lunar Landing Research Facility was modeled with fill material to imitate the moon's surface. Suspended by slings and cables on their sides, the men experienced what it would be like to walk on the moon where gravity is only 1/6 of that on Earth.

Today this facility is used for aircraft impact dynamics studies. The lunar landscape has been replaced by an impact runway that can be modified to simulate different crash environments. The LEMS has also been refurbished, and the names of many of the astronauts who trained at the Lunar Landing Research Facility are listed on its exterior. Today, the LEMS is on exhibit at the Virginia Air and Space Center in Hampton.

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