Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    Grumman construction log for the Apollo 11 Lunar Module Eagle

    Apollo 11 Grumman Lunar Module Handwritten Construction and Testing Log Book. A June 21 to October 18, 1968, log containing sixty-five handwritten single-sided 8" by 11" pages in a binder, particularly rich in the number of personal and historical notations about the demands of constructing LM-5 (Eagle), the first ship to land a crew on the moon. Each page includes a sign-in at the top by the Apollo engineer(s) who made the entries, recorded in their original print and script, and occasionally in their finger-printed ink smudges (all such smudges and folds date from Project Apollo and the actual recording/use of the log, which has been maintained in its original condition). This volume includes, throughout, two major events in LM-5 construction that came perilously close to aborting (A) the launch and (B) the landing of Apollo 11. This is one of Project Apollo's most unusual and fascinating time capsules. One page detached, otherwise very fine.

    This log was cross-referenced with LM-5 engineer interviews, by author Charles Pellegrino, during the writing of Chariots for Apollo. It includes notes about the newer "better" water-glycol cooling fluid for the ship's electronics. Kodak's new glycol formula developed a tendency for crystalizing to the consistency of orange juice and on at least one occasion springing leaks in LM-5 during testing, requiring days of clean-up (as during August 25-28, 1968). The newer, more expensive glycol was just one example of what test pilot Tommy Attridge called, "better becoming the enemy of best." As Attridge noted in Chapter 43, "Some demands of destiny," in an act of desperation Apollo 11's Eagle was allowed to fly with Kodak's "orange juice." All subsequent missions flew with "the older, cheaper stuff from some small company in New Jersey - enough to last beyond Apollo 18 at a total cost of $100." In another Attridge example, memorialized in this log, the Bit Error Comparator (BEC) problem comes and goes throughout, with the BEC often working in conflict with the "newer, better" landing radar, creating computer overloads that tended to trigger the Master Alarm - a problem that almost led to a mission abort during LM-5's descent to the Sea of Tranquility, along a trajectory called "US-1."

    Other events: The log opens with a surprisingly high number of electrical glitches, some of them foreshadowing Eagle's near mission abort along US-1. On June 21, 1968, LM-5 is shut down for X-rays to chase down an electrical problem that triggers the wrong attitude control thrusters ("jets") in response to the controls - revealing wires connected to the wrong parts of the ship (and again, June 25, September 11, October 2, 1968). Four months after the first "jet" control problem is discovered (October 12), a defective wire connector nearly starts a fire. During June 1968, work continues on yaw and roll electrical control problems, echoing a similar, computerized gimbal-lock situation that was to manifest on LM-4 (Apollo 10), and which would be recalled by Tom Stafford as "almost catastrophic" for his May 1969 flight around the moon.

    Throughout the constant tracking down and repair of mis-wired or uncooperative electrical systems (including a panel that insisted on lighting up when the system was powered down, September 17), the log highlights how each lunar module was, like a Stradivarius, a continually perfected, hand-made marvel. It also highlights the human element, including the unknown history of a competition between the different LM teams that sometimes evolved in strange ways: On October 2, LM-5 engineer Notar recorded that a piece of equipment was reclaimed from LM-4 (Apollo 10) and moved to LM-5. Notar wrote: "Paperwork... shows it always was assigned to LM-5. (LM-4 bandits pulled another night raid)." October 4: The LM-5 team replaced a faulty component with the same component "substituted" from LM-6 (Apollo 12); later that day, it was reclaimed to LM-6. October 7: Equipment was reconfigured for and sent to LM-6 without notification of LM-5 engineers. The last entry (October 17, 1968) notes that BEC problems were returning and worsening, leading to emergency calls to Ross Fleissig, Grumman's ("GAEC's") key flight guidance and control project leader for LM-5, to successfully solve the problem, producing a chart in the log showing the bit errors being brought gradually down to zero. By this time, it has become clear that neither LM-3 nor LM-4 will be ready for Apollo 8. The mission, two months from launch, is thus prepared for an orbital flight to the moon without a LM (a configuration that would have proved lethal had an Apollo 13 situation developed).

    The very last page is a copy of a photo from the cover of Ross Fleissig's LM-5 Phase III Reliability Report, dated November 20, 1968: "Reportable failures have gone down from (205 for) LM-3, to (74 for) LM-4, 57 (for) LM-5... Significantly improved vehicle... Low [says] this is very likely to be the LM to land on the moon - it should be."

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2014
    12th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 7
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,368

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $100,000 (minimum $14), plus 20% of any amount between $100,000 and $1,000,000, plus 12% of any amount over $1,000,000 per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 45 days left to consign to the 2020 April 23 Historical Manuscripts Signature Auction - Dallas!

    Learn about consigning with us

    Thanks a million for getting approval to sell my Civil War Hospital Death Ledger! You made them AND ME , a nice profit. You are the best!
    Ed W.,
    Mount Vernon, OH
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2019 December 14 Historic Flags of World War II Signature Auction - Dallas
    2019 December 14 Historic Flags of World War II Signature Auction - Dallas
    REALIZED $1,022,424