LEM Apollo design origin

Of all the Spacex toys, this pair has the easiest origin by miles. :) As everybody knows, the Apollo and LEM* are what brought Mankind to the Moon and back.

By the time this pair of toys reached the shops, Apollo 11 had made its historic mission in July 1969, followed four months later by Apollo 12. 1970 saw a single mission, Apollo 13, which had the world holding its breath until its safe return. Four more Apollo missions sent men to the Lunar surface in the next two years, making it a round dozen to have walked there. Sadly, the programme was then ended due to budget cuts.

Apollo programme patch

I'm sure everybody from the Spacex generation will remember the excitement of it all. Although being 9 years old in 1969, my parents thought it only right for me to stay up way beyond my bedtime (also due to the time difference between the US and my native Holland) and watch everything live as it happened on TV.

I still feel some of the thrill when I see launch footage from those days: "We have lift-off" together with huge bellowing clouds, cutting to the initials "U S A" passing by a camera on the launch tower (the most effective piece of propaganda I've ever seen :) as the mighty Saturn V slowly but surely lifted off the pad. Then over to another camera to watch the white flaming pencil shape disappear into space.

The next few days would bring some views from inside the Command Module, mixed with our national space expert (Dutch readers will remember Chriet Titulaer) explaining what was going on using NASA-supplied artwork. The flight path, the manoeuvre to get the LEM mated to the CSM, the lunar orbit, the landing site, the lot.

Apollo mission profile

Then, the biggest moment of all: a Lunar surface looming up and a safe landing! Images from so far away, the contrasty ones recording the First Step (if that doesn't deserve capital letters than what does?) giving way to truly marvellous views of the astronauts hopping around and going about their business.

And then there was the return journey, splashdown, helicopters bringing the astronauts to a huge carrier at sea, where they walked a red carpet before waving from behind the quarantine quarters window. Call me sentimental, but seeing it all again as if it were yesterday did bring a tear to my eye. Thrilling days indeed.

historic footstep

Box art

Flight path illustration origin

The LEM Apollo box has a schematic illustration of the flight path for an Apollo Moon mission on one side. This bears quite a resemblance to one illustrated at right in the Man and Space book (which is included in the Nova Rocket origin page - use your browser's Back button to return).

back to top


*: at the time of the Apollo missions, the lundar lander was called the Lunar Excursion Module. The E was later dropped, but I'm maintaining it here especially as that's what the toy is called. back to text

There is lots and lots of hard data on the Apollo missions to be found on the web. NASA has a lot to choose from of course; Wikipedia has a good digest (open in new windows).

The video fragments above are from the very evocative 1970 NASA documentary "Moonwalk One", which is also available to view in its entirety.