Lunar rover

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The Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) or lunar rover was a battery-powered four-wheeled rover used on the Moon during the last three missions of the American Apollo program (15, 16, and 17) during 1971 and 72. It was popularly known as the moon buggy, a play on the phrase "dune buggy".

The LRV could carry one or two astronauts, their equipment, and lunar samples.

Contents

History

The concept of a lunar rover predated Apollo, with a 1950s series in Collier's Weekly magazine by Wernher Von Braun and others, "Man Will Conquer Space Soon!", describing a six week stay on the moon, featuring ten-ton tractor trailers for moving supplies. In the February 1964 issue of Popular Science, Von Braun, then director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, discussed the need for a lunar surface vehicle[1]. In anticipation of this as-yet unfunded project, NASA officially changed the name of the lunar lander from Lunar Excursion Module to simply Lunar Module in an effort to make clear that the capability for powered lunar surface mobility ("excursions" away from the lunar lander base) did not yet exist.

The author of the general idea, design and form of the LRV was engineer Mieczyslaw G. Bekker.[2] The final lightweight design, the new tires, and the folding mechanism of the assembly were the inventions of engineer Ferenc Pavlics[3].

The first cost-plus-incentive-fee contract to Boeing (with Delco Electronics as a major sub-contractor) was for $19,000,000 and called for delivery of the first LRV by April 1, 1971, but cost overruns led to a final cost of $38,000,000. Four lunar rovers were built, one each for Apollo missions 15, 16, and 17; and one used for spare parts after the cancellation of further Apollo missions. There were other LRV models built: a static model to assist with human factors design, an engineering model to design and integrate the subsystems, two one-sixth gravity models for testing the deployment mechanism, a one-gravity trainer to give the astronauts instruction in the operation of the rover and allow them to practice driving it, a mass model to test the effect of the rover on the Apollo Lunar Module (LM) structure, balance and handling, a vibration test unit to study the LRV's durability and handling of launch stresses, and a qualification test unit to study integration of all LRV subsystems.

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