Zero Gravity And Reduced Gravity Training

To simulate the conditions of weightlessness and gravity on the Moon, NASA employed a special aircraft to fly parabolic flight paths to replicate these conditions for astronaut training. Most of these training flights originated from Patrick Air Force Base south of Kennedy Space Center, but training using this aircraft did take place at other locations. Formally known as the Reduced Gravity Program, it employed a KC-135 jet aircraft. The Crew Station Mockup (CSM) of the LRV was used for this training. The CSM included the major elements of the LRV from the toehold floor panels rearward; there was no forward chassis or mobility subsystem. This mockup was used on the aircraft for astronaut training in ingress and egress and securing the seatbelt, stowing and retrieving equipment from underneath the seats and assembling the all-important LRV Aft Pallet Assembly (APA) with its Lunar Hand Tool Carrier to the rear of the CSM, as the astronauts would have to do on the

Training for % gravity on the Moon was accomplished aboard NASA's KC-135 aircraft, appropriately named the ''Vomit Comet.'' Partial Lunar Rover sections were installed in the aircraft to practice seat ingress and egress and equipment installation. Pictured is Harrison Schmitt during one such training session. (NASA)

Moon. The Aft Pallet Assembly first had to be secured to the rear of the LRV CSM on its mounting points. The Lunar Hand Tool Carrier was then assembled to the APA. Due to the short 30-second duration of the gravity conditions before the aircraft had to pull out of its dive and climb back to altitude, many parabolas of the aircraft had to be flown to complete the scheduled amount of training. For that same reason, crews did not completely outfit the Lunar Hand Tool Carrier or perform other time-intensive tasks; this was performed on the ground in the Flight Crew Training Building.

''In retrospect,'' Harrison Schmitt remembered, ''the flights were most useful for hardware development and probably less so for training due to the unrealistic times and conditions.''

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