SLA
Spacecraft Lunar Module Adapter

July 2007.The SLA houses the LM until it is extracted from it during the journey to the Moon. It consists of four panels which are jettisoned from the remaining S-IVb stage and move away like petals on a flower. On the earlier missions (up until Apollo 7) the panels were hinged on the S-IVb.
 
To get the right curvature for the panels I decided to build a jig over which I would then laminate sheet styrene. The jig is one half of cone, smaller in size than what is correct. I expexted the laminated panels to "open up", so I made them curve more to compensate for that.
 
The next pictures show the jig and how two pieces of 0.3mm styrene are laminated on it. As you can see, the panels do not curve enough, but pulling them across the edge of a table two or three times gives almost exactly the required curvature. Actually, it's remarkable how asimilar the four panels turned out, and the curvature seems to last. I found it important how glue is applied in between the two pieces: gluing parallel to the long straight edges results in creases along the panel - gluing perpendicular gives a perfect result. This probably depends on the kind og glue you choose: ordinary liquid plastic glue is problematic because it "melts" the styrene and probably causes the "weak lines" resulting in the creases. Superglue - CA - is much better! 
 

The lower, conical part of the SLA is made from two pieces of 0.5mm styrene glued together. If the first part is butted together and held with ordinary tape when the second, e.g. the outer part is glued on to it you end up with a cone that is very close to being circular. And the SLA panels described above have a curvature that match the lower part almost perfectly - which I gladly admit is a bit lucky!

In the image gallery of the Apollo Archive, under "Apollo 7", you can find beautiful pictures of the insides of the SLA panels. They seem to be different shades of bare metal and you can make out the few details and wiring too. But since the panels used for Apollo 11 function in a different way, there is a chance that some of the detail is wrong, but hardly very far off... I painted the panels with Testor's steel and aluminum to give them different shades. You can perhaps make it out in the pictures below, in reality the effect is very good. Details were highlighted with silver.

The next photos show how the SLA is supposed to be displayed... The panels are stuck to to ring with pieces of wire. It's not perfect yet, and I have to think of a way to display it horizontally...

 

Back to Saturn V page

HOME