The Lafayette KT-135 EXPLOR-AIR Regenerative
and its importance to the Apollo Space Program
Previously top-secret details
concerning the role of the Lafayette EXPLOR-AIR
KT-135 regenerative receiver in the space
program during the Apollo Era have now been
declassified. Indeed, the radio was
so important to the program that Neil Armstrong, the first man to
walk on the Moon, was selected not because of his
qualifications as an astronaut, but because he
shared the same last name as the inventor of the
regenerative radio circuit, Edwin Armstrong.
Below are some very rare photographs of the KT-135
in actual spacecraft and the explanation of the secrecy surrounding
it. Also explained is how the EXPLOR-AIR came to be
known as the KT-135.
Wide angle view of the Apollo 15 Command
Module. A KT-135 has been installed directly in front of the
It is a verifiable fact that
not a single Lafayette EXPLOR-AIR radio receiver
ever failed at NASA during the Apollo moon landing
program. During the race to the moon against the
Soviet Union, the fact that NASA even used regen
radios, particularly the EXPLOR-AIR KT-135, was one of the most
highly guarded secrets of the time.
Close-up of above photo
Crudely airbrushed photo of the same cockpit
that was released to the public.
Knowledge of the use of the
EXPLOR-AIR regen receiver by NASA had to be kept
from the Soviets by any means practical. All
photographs released by NASA were edited to remove
the radio. To this day, any photograph of a KT-135
radio in any spacecraft, or at the
Manned Spaceflight Control Center in Houston, Texas,
are very hard to find.
Leo Pound, the creator of NASA under the Eisenhower
Administration, is credited with the decision to use
the KT-135s in all spacecraft and ground based
A pivotal moment in the Apollo program
was the Apollo 1 fire. Though we tragically lost three
astronauts, it is universally agreed that without the fire
and subsequent re-design of the capsule we would never have
made it to the Moon. The decision by Leo Pound to include the KT-135 as a
means to listen to radio transmissions was made at this
The idea was so brilliant that "Doc Potter," the head of the engineering
department, was heard to
exclaim, "This is the most outrageous bullsh*t I've ever
The crew of Apollo 10 have a
belly laugh with Vice President Spiro T. Agnew when
he says, "The moon is going broke. It's down to
its last quarter! - but it's just going through a
phase!" Left to right: Eugene Cernan,
VP Agnew, Bruce Knoll and Joe Jones.
In this photo, Cernan places his hand inside
his sweater to hide the fact that he is missing part
of his left index finger. More about
this further down on this page.
Deke Slayton at the controls while
Apollo astronauts listen to
a transmission from Apollo 10.
Radio has been replaced with a music
conductor's BATON in this hilarious edited version.
The editor had probably watched "Lawrence Welk" the
night before. Despite the fact that no logical person would believe Mr. Slayton
is conducting music in
this scene, many Americans believe this is the
Inside the Lunar Module. The
simplicity and reliability of a three tube radio
made it an obvious choice as a receiver. To thwart
the Soviets from hearing any radio transmissions, they
were "hidden in plain sight." The frequency used was
6210 kHz, the same frequency used by Amelia Earhart.
It was easily tuned by the KT-135 on Band C.
Recently released documents from the Kremlin
contain no indication that the Soviets ever tuned to
this frequency during an American mission to the
Moon. The ruse worked perfectly.
Note: In this photo the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC)
below the radio has been removed so technicians can
connect the power and antenna to the Lafayette
Now that almost 50 years
have passed since the Apollo program ended, NASA no
longer seems to be as concerned with secrecy.
On the left is the raw image from the Hasselblad
film magazine, number 36N, published by NASA on
flickr.com on September 25, 2015. On the right is the
ridiculous doctored photo released by NASA in the
So that the KT-135 would not appear in the
photograph, portions of the picture to the left and
right of Buzz Aldrin were REMOVED. How this was done
remains a mystery.
Mr. Aldrin is seen here making a gang gesture,
wasn't known at the time that he, along with Eugene
Cernan, was affiliated
with a gang. The three downward pointing fingers represents the letter M, a gang symbol for the
notorious "Moon Boyz." The gang was so vicious
that each member had his left index finger chopped
off at the knuckle as part of his
initiation into the gang.
When the picture is inverted, a secret
code appears. dW7 IX 0770dV. Mr. Aldrin claims he was not
the person who signed the photograph and he doesn't know
what the code means.
Some historians believe it is a Russian cryptogram.
A "Moon Hoax" nut named Bart Sibrel
snickered that the solved Russian cryptogram is (in
English), "I'm a
coward and a liar and a thief." You can
see a video of Buzz Aldrin punching him in the face on
It turns out it was just a code put there by NASA photo
editing specialists. It indicates the color filter in the
enlarging head, the time of the exposure, the temperature of
the developing solution and the length of time the print was
to be placed in the developer.
Apollo astronauts in training. Hours of
practice are needed to tune a regen radio. Undated photo.
All of the KT-135 radios were built by women, under the direction
of Katie Wasserman.
This is the same Katie Wasserman who supplied the manual on
Page 5 of this site. The KT designation is actually her
name, Katie. NASA ordered 135 Lafayette EXPLOR-AIR radios.
As each radio was finished, Katie would put the number on a
blackboard. Soon, she was known as "Katie 135." The radio
itself came to be called the Katie-135, or KT-135.
Gene Krantz (foreground) and
Dave Kraft at the Flight Controller's console,
November 14, 1969. At
this very moment, 52 seconds into the flight, Apollo
12 has been struck by lightning. The fuel cells and
all instrumentation in the Command Module are
offline or malfunctioning.
The only piece of equipment still working in the
spacecraft is the Lafayette KT-135. Jim Hansen
(left) has turned to Gene and says, "Try SCE*
Auxiliary." CapCom Andrew Ramsey makes the call,
"Apollo 12, try SCE to AUX. Over."
Aboard Apollo 12, Astronaut Alan Bean hears the call
on the KT-135 and toggles the SCE
switch to AUX. The Instrumentation was restored. The
KT-135 saved what would have been an aborted
In the photo, Dave Kraft can be seen rubbing his
face as he remarks, "Man, that was a close shave!" A
technician leans forward and asks, "Dave, what if
you had a
razor that had two razorblades?" The technician was Matt Knoebel, who had a girlfriend named Jill Let. In 1971 the Gillette Trac II
razor was released, another spinoff of the space
* Signal Conditioning
On the left is the console used by Sy
Liebergot during the Apollo 13 mission. Liebergot was the
EECOM on duty when the oxygen tank exploded. On the right is the
ludicrous altered photo released to the public. The radio
has been replaced with a TV screen! Why would Sy Liebergot
be watching a TELEVISION SHOW while the lives of three
astronauts were at stake?
The deception was so complete that a television screen was
also used in the movie "Apollo 13." When Liebergot was asked
what he thought of the movie he jokingly quipped, "It was
pretty good but they should have had me watching Lost
In Space on that TV set!"
Several methods were used to
suspend the 40 meter dipole antenna while on the
surface of the Moon. These ranged from standard
antenna masts to telescoping utility poles. One
technician suggested helium balloons. He was
reassigned to the role of night janitor.
Then in 1972, as both Christmas and the launch of
Apollo 17 were approaching, a gifted engineer named
James Foster suggested artificial Christmas
trees! The trees were purchased at
Woolworth's and came in several segments. They were assembled in place, right out of the box.
They also created some atmosphere.
A recording of
the Apollo 11 moon landing received on a KT-135
and recorded by holding a microphone to the speaker.
This is an
actual recording from a REAL KT-135.
The rest, as they say, is history.
The United States of America landed men on the Moon, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics did not.
There are two arguments that can be made here. The first is that
"Our German scientists were better than their German
scientists." The other is that just 25 years prior to the
moon landing, much of the Soviet Union had been bombed into
rubble while the mainland USA was unscathed by the war.
However, the fact is that without a Lafayette EXPLOR-AIR
KT-135 regen radio, every one of the USSR's mighty N-1
rocket boosters exploded.
Fifty years after the Apollo program, no nation on Earth has
been able to land a man on the moon. That includes the
United States! Lafayette ended production of the KT-135 kits
in 1970, crippling our ability to get back to the moon.
When the Apollo program ended the radios were hastily
removed from the remaining spacecraft and thrown into a
scrap metal pile. The spacecraft were then sent to various
museums without the radio. Most Apollo astronauts, and some NASA
officials, kept one of these scrapped KT-135s in their
personal collections. Some of these men, astronauts
included, have now passed away.
When their estates are settled, family members who have no
idea what priceless treasures they now possess, put them up
for auction on ebay. One was recently purchased for $220.95
by a retired doctor in Pennsylvania.
It was found to have the letters "N. A. APOLLO XI CMDR"
scratched into the chassis. It is now worth over a million
I hope you found this
entertaining and informative. Check out Carol Maher's KT-135