1/6 Scale Lunar Lander Drop Test

A 1/6-scale model of the lunar lander has been prototyped for drop testing at Carnegie Mellon University. The investigation is inspired by an Apollo-era study, “Evaluation of a Full-Scale and a Lunar-Gravity Simulator by Comparison of Landing-Impact Tests of a Full-Scale and a 1/6-Scale Model”. By scaling linear dimensions with the ratio of Moon/Earth gravity, then time scales by the same ratio, and velocity is invariant at both scales.

Scaled Model Next To Lander

The drop rig consists of a stand with an adjustable height and a four bar mechanism with pitch adjustment to give an initial angle and horizontal velocity to the lander while keeping the orientation the same throughout the swing. An electromagnet with a switch is attached to the four bar swing as a quick release to drop the lander.

Lander Drop Rig and Markers

On the left is the lander drop rig. The markers depicted in motion capture software are shown on the right.

Experiments dropped the level lander onto level surface, angled lander onto level surface, and angled velocity onto level surface.

Crushed Honeycomb Inserts

Crushed honeycomb inserts from different drops

Tests determine that the lander is very stable and that the crush-stoke of honeycomb material is sufficient for all flat-landing scenarios.

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