Milestone-Proposal:Grumman Lunar Module

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Docket #:2010-08

This is a draft proposal, that has not yet been submitted. To submit this proposal, click on the edit button in toolbar above, indicated by an icon displaying a pencil on paper. At the bottom of the form, check the box that says "Submit this proposal to the IEEE History Committee for review. Only check this when the proposal is finished" and save the page.

To the proposer’s knowledge, is this achievement subject to litigation?

Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old?

Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s designated fields as defined by IEEE Bylaw I-104.11, namely: Engineering, Computer Sciences and Information Technology, Physical Sciences, Biological and Medical Sciences, Mathematics, Technical Communications, Education, Management, and Law and Policy.

Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity?

Was it of at least regional importance?

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)?

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony?

Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated?

Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an IEEE Milestone? Yes

Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:

1962 - 1972

Title of the proposed milestone:

Grumman Lunar Module

Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:

200-250 word abstract describing the significance of the technical achievement being proposed, the person(s) involved, historical context, humanitarian and social impact, as well as any possible controversies the advocate might need to review.

IEEE technical societies and technical councils within whose fields of interest the Milestone proposal resides.

In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?

IEEE Long Island Section

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):

Unit: IEEE Long Island Section
Senior Officer Name: Brian J. Quinn

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:

Unit: IEEE Long Island Section
Senior Officer Name: Dr. Ronald Pirich

IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):

IEEE Section: IEEE Long Island Section
IEEE Section Chair name: Jon Garruba

Milestone proposer(s):

Proposer name: Dr. Ronald Pirich
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public

Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.

Street address(es) and GPS coordinates in decimal form of the intended milestone plaque site(s):

Proposed site of the proposed milestone plaque would be at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, Battle Management and Engagement Systems Headquarters. This is the former home of the Grumman Corporation where the Lunar Module was designed, built and tested. Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, 600 Grumman Road West, Bethpage, NY 11714.

Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.

Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need. Proposed site of the proposed milestone plaque would be in Northrop Grumman Aerospace System, Battle Management and Engagement System’s Headquarters, Building 25, 600 Grumman Road West, Bethpage, NY 11714, where some of the Grumman Lunar Module engineering was executed. Building 25 is next to the original Grumman building 5 where the Grumman Lunar Module was built and tested.

Are the original buildings extant?


Details of the plaque mounting:

How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?

The site is secure by fencing and guards but accessible to the Public

Who is the present owner of the site(s)?

Northrop Grumman Corporation

What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)? If personal names are included in citation, include justification here. (see section 6 of Milestone Guidelines)

Most people can tell you where they were when the Grumman Lunar Module landed on the moon. In addition to throngs of people crowding highways and beaches near the launch site, millions watched the event on television around the world. This historic and revolutionary engineering project captured the imagination of people all over the world. After winning a contract in 1962, nearly 3,000 Grumman engineers and more than 7,000 people in all created more than a dozen hand-built lunar modules fulfilling President John F. Kennedy's vow to put a man on the lunar surface by the end of the decade. The Apollo 11 space flight landed the first humans on Earth's Moon on July 20, 1969. The mission, carried out by the United States, is considered a major accomplishment in human exploration and represented a victory by the U.S. in the Cold War Space Race with the Soviet Union. Apollo 13 was the third Apollo mission intended to land on the Moon. That mission, launched on April 11, 1970, was aborted as a fault in electrical equipment inside one of the Service Module's oxygen tanks produced an explosion which caused the loss of both tanks' oxygen, depriving the Service Module of electrical power. This forced the crew to shut down the Command Module to conserve its batteries and oxygen needed for the last hours of flight, and use the Grumman Lunar Module's resources during the return trip to Earth. Despite great hardship caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat, shortage of potable water, and the critical need to jury-rig the carbon dioxide removal system, the crew returned safely to Earth on April 17 as a result of the magnificent engineering expertise which built the Grumman Lunar Module.

What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?

The Grumman Lunar was designed after NASA chose to reach the Moon via Lunar Orbit Rendezvous (LOR) instead of the direct ascent or Earth Orbit Rendezvous (EOR) methods. Both direct ascent and EOR would have involved landing a much heavier, complete Apollo spacecraft on the Moon. Once the decision had been made to proceed using LOR, it became necessary to produce a separate craft capable of reaching the lunar surface and ascending back to lunar orbit. The Grumman Lunar Module was the world's first true spacecraft in that it was capable of operation only in outer space, structurally and aerodynamically incapable of flight through the Earth's atmosphere. The Grumman Lunar Module became the most reliable component of the Apollo/Saturn system and the only one never to suffer any failure that significantly impacted a mission. The Grumman Lunar Module greatly exceeded its design requirements and become the first vehicle to land man on an extraterrestrial body, the Moon.

What features set this work apart from similar achievements?

The Grumman Lunar Module was the first vehicle to land man on an extraterrestrial body, the Moon. Because it was designed solely to fly in space, the Grumman Lunar Module was made of lightweight metals and unique electrical and electronic systems. The design, construction and testing of the Grumman Lunar Module continually pushed the technology envelope and resulted in one of the most important and successful engineering achievements of mankind. Some of the electrical and electronic accomplishments related to the Grumman Lunar Module included a unique environmental control system that maintained the module interior temperature between 65 and 70F. The Grumman Lunar Module had a robust landing radar and computer system that measured the delay between the transmitted and reflected microwaves from the Lunar surface and calculated accurately the Grumman Lunar Module's proximity to the lunar surface. The Grumman Lunar Module's ascent stage's radar antenna also received transmissions from the Command Surface Module's transponder and calculated the Grumman Lunar Module's precise position and speed during docking. The guidance computer used on the Grumman Lunar Module was the first computer to use Integrated circuits in its design.

Supporting texts and citations to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or chapters in scholarly books. 'Scholarly' is defined as peer-reviewed, with references, and published. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article. All supporting materials must be in English, or accompanied by an English translation.

Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.

Please email a jpeg or PDF a letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property, and a letter (or forwarded email) from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application to with the subject line "Attention: Milestone Administrator." Note that there are multiple texts of the letter depending on whether an IEEE organizational unit other than the section will be paying for the plaque(s).

Please recommend reviewers by emailing their names and email addresses to Please include the docket number and brief title of your proposal in the subject line of all emails.