The egress hatch of the LM is almost 3.5 meters above the Lunar surface. The astronauts descended using a ladder, which is actually quite high above the ground (see also this question). Were any other ways considered to descend to the surface?


Yes. The initial idea from Grumman, the company that developed the lunar module, was to use a rope to descend to the surface. The rationale was that a rope is simple, reliable, lightweight. Grumman performed simulations with a mock-up lander model and a rig to simulate lunar gravity. Testers in mock-up space suits tried climbing up and down the rope. It was found difficult, but feasible.

Soon however they realised the downsides: what if the astronaut was too tired? What if there was an emergency and they need to get back fast? What if an astronaut got injured, how would the other astronaut help him get back in?

Also, it looked ridiculous.

The rope was abandoned and the ladder was used.

There is a great writeup here.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @uhoh Seems it came from a Discovery documentary that got pulled offline. Unable to find it back, unfortunately. $\endgroup$
    – Ludo
    Apr 25 at 11:10
  • $\begingroup$ uhoh! :-) okay thanks $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Apr 25 at 11:23

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