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Bell-NASA Lunar transport (Lunar POGO)

Bell ’s involvement in Lunar Flying Vehicles

Bell ’s involvement into the Lunar Flying Vehicles was to test a small one man rocket vehicle, in simulated lunar gravity, using pressure suited pilots. The goal was to build an all mechanical, direct manual control system. Because of Bell ’s works on the SRLD, NASA granted Bell a contract (NAS 8-21042) to investigate, build, and test such a vehicle. The tests must be done in a simulated lunar gravity (1/6 of the Earth’s gravity). Bell started this research in       (c) NASA

                                              Above Left and middle: Robert Courter, right Lee Persons???

1963 some years before the actual tests with pressure suited pilots from January 1967 till July 1967. The first of the so called “POGO” devices was test-flown in 1966, under normal Earth like circumstances. The famous Bell flying chair was one of the possible means of Lunar transportation(see chapter).


                                                                                Test and ststic flying in a Bell hangar. Left Robert Courter, middle Bill Suitor, right John Spencer

A variety of configurations have been established, used in selected sizes of Lunar POGO devices (3 types) Remember that the Lunar devices must be build different than the Earth devices. If you would start a “Earth” POGO on the Moon, you would be sky-rocketed into the air. So, to give you just one simple example, the thrust must be adapted, and the valve must be of a different type and operation as the Earth ones.


Bell studies for a lunar transportation vehicle. Left the 64 kilo payload, right the 125 and 190 kilo payload vehicles capable of flying 5, 10 or 17 kilometres on and above the Moon

The POGO was developed for rapid lunar transportation to remote sites, exploration of sites inaccessible to surface travel and the rescue of a walking or riding astronaut stranded away from the LM base. The approach was to develop the POGO with the use of existing equipment (and sure Bell had a lot) with a minimum of modification.

All was tested at the Langley Lunar Landing Research Facility. Flight tests were conducted by a test pilot mentioned “R”, that was Bell ’s Robert Courter with back up pilot Bill suitor, and “L”, Lee Persons, a NASA astronaut,  using a graduated series of test flights of increasing difficulty. One with shirtsleeves, one with a NASA soft suit, and one with a NASA pressure suit.



The pilots learned to fly the vehicle in the RX2A-, A4H- and pressure suits in relatively few flights.Also in shirt sleeves.

Bell made their status report on July 1967, called ” flight test of a one man flying vehicle ” under report No. 2330-950002.


After the 1967 flights someone, somewhere at NASA decided that rocket-or jet powered Lunar transportation was unnecessary. Under whatever circumstances the Apollo astronauts had to WALK back to the LM in case of a mailfunction with their Lunar transportation. The Lunar POGO's had a to great reach....NASA decided to use the Lunar Rover.

That’s were the adventure for Bell ended.