LEM rotation instead of transposition, docking and extraction?

If you can get past the “one weird trick” algorithm, YouTube has a decent collection of historical aerospace films. In my Apollo collection is this gem of a video that I’d love to get more details on.

It shows an early concept for getting the LEM from behind the command module to the docking port. Instead of the transposition, docking and extraction maneuver we’ve come to know, it shows a set of arms physically rotating it into position. The arms are jettisoned when the LEM descends to the Moon, and the LEM docks as we came to expect it when it returns from the surface.

LEM after S-IVB jettison
Wave your LEM in the air like you just don’t care!

It’d have to require cooperation and interfacing between both North American – maker of the Apollo Command and Service Module which is where these arms connect and where the rotation mechanism seems to be — and Grumman who eventually won the contract for the LEM and would have to handle the linkage of the arms and the stresses imparted via the arms during launch and the rotation.

Was this an actual early planned concept by the engineers later shaved for weight savings? An artists concept early in the program when so little was known? The film is undated so its hard to pinpoint. I’d love to learn more.

About Chris

Python developer, Agile practitioner trying desperately not to be a pointy haired boss.
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