Something about the Apollo missions always confused me, sure, the step off of the lunar lander’s 91 cm footpad was a small step, but the step just before that was actually enormous!
I’m talking about this, the huge gap between the last rung on the ladder and the ground. Why on the Moon is that gap so huge?! Isn’t it dangerous to require an astronaut to jump down onto the surface and jump back up?
The lunar lander’s ladder had nine rungs all spaced 22.8 cm (9”) apart, but the gap between the last rung and the ground was about three times that at a whopping 76 cm (30”)! So really, the ladder wasn’t missing one rung, it was missing two!
I mean sure, the gravity’s only 1/6th that of Earth’s, but wouldn’t it have been so much safer if there was even one more rung to close that gap up a little?
So today we’re going to look into why NASA and the Lunar Lander’s manufacturer Grumman, chose a ladder of this length, we’ll talk about design considerations of the hardware, the unknown conditions of the lunar surface, and the astronauts who were basically too smooth of pilots to get the ladder’s last rung any closer to the surface of the moon.