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Show related SlideShares at end. WordPress Shortcode. After being unpacked, they were driven an average distance of 30 km on each of the three missions, without major incident. Bekker published two books on land locomotion. The books provided much of the theoretical base for future lunar vehicle development. Beginning in the early s, a series of studies centering on lunar mobility were conducted under Marshall.

The Wheels of Apollo and the Quest for Mars

In early planning for the Apollo program , it had been assumed that two Saturn V launch vehicles would be used for each lunar mission: one for sending the crew aboard a Lunar Surface Module LSM to lunar orbit, landing, and returning, and a second for sending an LSM-Truck LSM-T with all of the equipment, supplies, and transport vehicle for use by the crew while on the surface.

All of the first Marshall studies were based on this dual-launch assumption, allowing a large, heavy, roving vehicle. Grumman and Northrop, in the fall of , began to design pressurized-cabin vehicles, with electric motors for each wheel. At about this same time Bendix and Boeing started their own internal studies on lunar transportation systems.

Ferenc Pavlics , originally from Hungary , used a wire-mesh design for "resilient wheels," a design that would be followed in future small rovers. Following reviews of all earlier efforts, this resulted in a volume report. In June , Marshall awarded contracts to Bendix and to Boeing, with GM's lab designated as the vehicle technology subcontractor. This would be composed of a fixed, habitable shelter—laboratory with a small lunar-traversing vehicle that could either carry one man or be remotely controlled.

With pressure from Congress to hold down Apollo costs, Saturn V production was reduced, allowing only a single launch per mission. Any roving vehicle would have to fit on the same lunar module as the astronauts. In November , two-rocket models were put on indefinite hold, but Bendix and Boeing were given study contracts for small rovers. The name of the lunar excursion module was changed to simply the lunar module , indicating that the capability for powered "excursions" away from a lunar-lander base did not yet exist. There could be no mobile lab — the astronauts would work out of the LM.

Marshall continued to also examine uncrewed robotic rovers that could be controlled from the Earth. From the beginnings at Marshall, the Brown Engineering Company of Huntsville, Alabama had participated in all of the lunar mobility efforts. Brown's team made full use of the earlier small-rover studies, and commercially available components were incorporated wherever possible. The selection of wheels was of great importance, and almost nothing was known at that time about the lunar surface.


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The Marshall Space Sciences Laboratory SSL was responsible for predicting surface properties, and Brown was also prime support contractor for this lab; Brown set up a test area to examine a wide variety of wheel-surface conditions. To simulate Pavlics' "resilient wheel," a four-foot-diameter inner tube wrapped with nylon ski rope was used.

On the small test rover, each wheel had a small electric motor, with overall power provided by standard truck batteries. A roll bar gave protection from overturn accidents. In early , Brown's vehicle became available for examining human factors and other testing.

Lunar and Planetary Rovers

Marshall built a small test track with craters and rock debris where the several different mock-ups were compared; it became obvious that a small rover would be best for the proposed missions. The test vehicle was also operated in remote mode to determine characteristics that might be dangerous to the driver, such as acceleration, bounce-height, and turn-over tendency as it traveled at higher speeds and over simulated obstacles. The test rover's performance under one-sixth gravity was obtained through flights on a KCA aircraft in a Reduced Gravity parabolic maneuver; among other things, the need for a very soft wheel and suspension combination was shown.

Although Pavlics' wire-mesh wheels were not initially available for the reduced gravity tests, the mesh wheels were tested on various soils at the Waterways Experiment Station of the U. Army Corps of Engineers at Vicksburg, Mississippi.

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Later, when wire-mesh wheels were tested on low-g flights, the need for wheel fenders to reduce dust contamination was found. The model was also extensively tested at the U. During and , the Summer Conference on Lunar Exploration and Science brought together leading scientists to assess NASA's planning for exploring the Moon and to make recommendations. One of their findings was that the LSSM was critical to a successful program and should be given major attention.

Saverio F. On 11 July , just before the successful Moon landing of Apollo 11 , a request for proposal for the final development and building the Apollo LRV was released by Marshall. Boeing, Bendix, Grumman, and Chrysler submitted proposals. Following three months of proposal evaluation and negotiations, Boeing was selected as the Apollo LRV prime contractor on 28 October Vehicle testing would take place at the Boeing facility in Kent, Washington , and the chassis manufacturing and overall assembly would be at the Boeing facility in Huntsville.

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. Other LRV models were 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 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.

The rover was first used on 31 July , during the Apollo 15 mission. This greatly expanded the range of the lunar explorers. Previous teams of astronauts were restricted to short walking distances around the landing site due to the bulky space suit equipment required to sustain life in the lunar environment. The range, however, was operationally restricted to remain within walking distance of the lunar module, in case the rover broke down at any point.

The LRV was developed in only 17 months and performed all its functions on the Moon with no major anomalies. Scientist-astronaut Harrison Schmitt of Apollo 17 said, "The Lunar Rover proved to be the reliable, safe and flexible lunar exploration vehicle we expected it to be. Without it, the major scientific discoveries of Apollo 15, 16, and 17 would not have been possible; and our current understanding of lunar evolution would not have been possible.

The LRVs experienced some minor problems. The dust thrown up from the wheel covered the crew, the console, and the communications equipment. McCarthy, K. McInnes, S. Faragalli, D. Pasini, P. Radziszewski, A parametric study of lunar wheel suspension on dynamic terranaibility Astro Gabrielli, F. St-Jean McManus, Z. He, M. Gharib, P. Radziszewski, Investigating regolith infiltration and wear of sliding surfaces Astro Heverly, J.

Matthews, M. Frost, C. Jones, P. Visscher, D. Boucher, P. Radziszewski, M.


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Faragalli, S. Spenler, D. The ExoMars rover locomotion subsystem. Journal of Terramechanics 47 :