13 April 2012

From the moon to the Earth

There is a joke when you are talking about the Apollo missions to the moon that only a man (or American, depending on who is telling the joke) would travel all the way to moon and have to bring their car with them in order to go for a drive. However, it functionality far surpassed the passing fancy of ‘going for a spin on the moon.’ Plus, have I mentioned how cool the Lunar Roving Vehicles looked? Here is a replica of the lunar rover, also known as a moon buggy, which is displayed in the queue of Epcot’s Mission: SPACE.
Like the vehicles of the Tomorrowland Speedway, the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) had a very slow top speed. In fact, the rovers topped out at a breeze-inducing 8.7 miles per hour! The first usage of the moon buggy didn’t come until the Apollo 15 mission in 1971 and were used regularly through 1972’s Apollo 17 mission. The battery powered vehicles are touted as having a radio that could reach all the way back to earth, and included other necessary components, such as tools, life support systems, a drill for sample collecting, cameras, and a couple of antennas, but the piece of the rovers that I find truly remarkable were the wheels and tires.

Designed by General Motors, the ability to drive on the moon was dependent upon finding a suitable wheel that could be durable, while not utilizing the standard rubber and air construction. In the end, Ferenc Paulics came up with wheels and tires that employed aluminum, steel, zinc, and titanium. The mesh tires were half covered by titanium slats in order to create traction and move the rover forward.

While it may look like something a child built out of scraps in their backyard for their clubhouse, the Lunar Roving Vehicles captured the hearts and mind of young astronauts-to-be and the adults who dared to dream of the moon all across the globe. For all the jokes and winks, who wouldn’t want to cruise on the moon?!?!

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