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Apollo Expeditions to the Moon

CHAPTER 14, Appendix II


Encumbered by a spacesuit, an astronaut on foot could not venture very far from the LM; carrying tools and samples made his forays more difficult. On the last three lunar missions a lightweight electric car greatly increased the productivity of the scientific traverses. Mission rules restricted us from going more than 6 miles from the LM - the distance we could walk back in a pinch - but even so the area that could be investigated was ten times greater than before. The Rover's mobility was quite high; it could climb and descend slopes above 25. Crossing a steep slope was uneasy for the man on the downhill side, but there were no rollovers. On the level we averaged close to our top speed of 7 mph. Once, going down the Lee-Lincoln scarp, we set an informal lunar speed record for four-wheeled vehicles of 11 mph.

Folded up to fit within its storage bay in the LM descent stage, the little car was designed so that it almost assembled itself.

Deploying the Lunar Rover
Carried to the Moon in a nose-down, floorpan-out position, the Rover could be deployed by an Astronaut paying out two nylon tapes. In the first stage the car swings out from its storage bay. Then the rear part of the chassis unfolds and locks, and the rear wheels unfold. In the third stage the front chassis and wheels snap out. Finally, the astronaut lowers it to the surface, and unfolds the seats and footrests. Torsion-bar springs and latches mode assembly semiautomatic. Power for the Rover came from two 36-volt silver-zinc batteries driving an independent 1/4-hp motor in each wheel. A navigation system kept track of the bearing and range to the LM.

Three Expeditions Along Hadley Rille

Parked by Hadley Rille in the first of the traverses shown at left above, the Apollo 15 Rover had already displayed its workhorse willingness. It weighed 462 pounds (but only 77 on the Moon), and could carry two suited astronauts, their gear and cameras, and several hundred pounds of bagged samples.

The Rover