Lunar Receiving Laboratory, Manned Spacecraft Center
The Lunar Receiving Laboratory (LRL) was a NASA research facility located at the Manned Spacecraft Center—now known as Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center—used during Project Apollo. The Laboratory’s initial purpose was to quarantine anyone and anything returning from the surface of the Moon. Seeing as no person had ever walked on the Moon before, NASA did not know whether or not exposure to lunar dust was biologically hazardous. The crews of Apollo 11, Apollo 12, and Apollo 14 thus immediately traveled to the LRL after splashdown, where they were temporarily sequestered for monitoring. Any lunar samples they brought back, meanwhile, were first analyzed at the facility in glovebox vacuum chambers. Although NASA suspended the quarantine requirement beginning with Apollo 15, the LRL continued to process and store lunar materials through the duration of Project Apollo. (Between six lunar-landing missions, NASA astronauts collected 2,200 separate samples.) In 1979, NASA built the Lunar Sample Laboratory Facility, also located at the Center, as a permanent repository for Apollo samples. The LRL now hosts experiments related to the effects of microgravity.