After an amazingly brief 17 months of designing and testing, the ‘Moon buggy’, the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), or Lunar Rover was used from 1971-1972 as a key component of missions 15-17 of the Apollo Program. Created primarily to extend the range of terrain that the two Apollo crew members could explore during their stay on the Moon’s surface, four fully space-worthy lunar rovers along with seven test models were built in preparation for these J-Missions. The fourth sibling from the LRV family however never had the opportunity to enter space, as after the announced dissolution of the Apollo program it was relegated to providing spare parts for the other rovers.

 

The first successful rover to land on the Moon was in fact the Soviet Union’s robotic Lunokhod 1. Dismounting a ramp from the Luna 17 lander on  17 November 1970, for the following 10 months this eight-wheeled vehicle travelled over 10km of lunar surface transmitting useful geological data and imagery back to its remote-controllers on Earth. Solar-powered during the day, a radioisotope heater helped Lunokhod 1 endure the freezing-cold temperatures of the Moon at night. On the other side of the Pacific however from among various contenders including Grumman and Chrysler, the American-owned aircraft manufacturing giant Boeing secured the main Apollo LRV construction contract. Saverio “Sonny” Morea was appointed LRV program manager. General Motors were also brought on board to manage the development of the Moon buggy’s motors, wheels, and suspension.

 

image of LRV test vehicle

Apollo 16 astronauts John Young and Charles Duke test-drive a Rover Earth Trainer Unit in the Lunar Surface Simulator. The simulator helped develop the LRV navigation system and was an aid to engineers on Earth while the Apollo Missions were taking place. (Image credit: NASA)

 

Following in the most pragmatic traditions of spacecraft manufacture every part of the LRV had to be constructed from the lightest materials possible, so long as the choice of these materials did not compromise the buggy’s ability to withstand a load and the structural stresses of bumps during launch, touchdown, or navigation of lunar terrain. Likewise, every part of the Lunar Roving Vehicle had to be able to withstand the extreme temperature variations experienced on the surface of the Moon, ranging to 150 degrees below freezing. Worth 95 times the value of even a present day Rolls Royce, the first Lunar Rover emerged from the production line bearing a $38 000 000 price tag. Although lacking electric windows or convertible hood, the flight-compacted LRV package transformed before emerging as the four-wheeled Moon buggy we all recognise.

 

Image of LM general arrangement

This general arrangement diagram of a Lunar Module shows where the LRV was stowed. (Image credit: NASA)

 

 

How the LRV was unfolded and removed from the LM. Watch how it was done for real in the video below. (Image credit: NASA)

How the LRV was unfolded and removed from the LM. Watch it animated and how it was done for real in the videos below. (Image credit: NASA)

 


 

 

image of rover on moon

Commander Eugene A. Cernan test-driving an empty LRV on the Moon, shortly before loading-on equipment for Apollo 17 Mission’s first Extra-Vehicular Activity. (Image credit: NASA)

 

General arrangement of Lunar Rover Vehicle (Image credit: NASA)

General arrangement of Lunar Rover Vehicle (Image credit: NASA)

 

Weighing 204kg, equipped with one ¼hp electric motor per wheel, and powered by two 36V silver zinc non-rechargeable batteries, the Lunar Roving Vehicle could perform four wheel-steering, execute a U-turn within a three metre radius, and operate under a total vehicle weight of up to 659kg (104 stone). Mounted on the buggy’s chassis were: seatbelts; a T-handle driving control console with odometer detailing distance and bearing from the Lunar Module; a handbrake; a communications antennae; a navigational gyroscope orientated in relation to the Sun; a TV camera relaying footage back to Earth.

 

image_of LRV and Mt Hadley

With Mount Hadley beyond, Lunar Module Pilot Jim Irwin completes Apollo 15 Mission’s first EVA. Clearly visible are the lunar sample bags attached to the back of the Rover. (Image credit: NASA/David Scott)

 

Measuring 3.1m by 2.3m (wheelbase), the three Lunar Rovers were used to ferry scientific equipment, tools, life support consumables, lunar rock samples, and up to two occupants on their Extra-Vehicular Activities over a total of 90km of the Moon’s surface. The tool caddy was furnished with: a hammer, a sampling scoop, a brush, and a rake. Had new spacesuits enabling bending at the waist not been designed for Apollo Missions 15-17, no astronaut could have ever sat in a Lunar Rover. The new range of movement afforded by the suit facilitated kneeling and eased sample collection during EVA’s. Although LRVs were capable of running on just one battery in an emergency, the lunar astronauts always commenced their EVA by navigating the vehicles to the farthest calculated point from the lander module. This ensured that all subsequent stopping points of the traverse brought the astronauts increasingly close to the landing spacecraft, should the buggy have completely failed and returning by foot became a necessity.

 

image_of Stick and dashboard

Lunar Rover control panel on a replica LRV unit in the Museum of Flight, Seattle, Washington. (Image credit: Shannon Lucas via Wikimedia Commons)

 

The LRV astronaut operators of Apollo 15, 16, and 17 claimed that the lunar maps mounted on the LRV map holder did not resemble the Moon’s topography to any recognisable degree of accuracy. Moreover although quite an engineering feat to have achieved, the Lunar Rover navigation system was accurate at best only to within a range of 100 m. Scott and Irwin of Apollo 15 stated that if parked on a very steep slope the Roving Vehicle side-slipped downhill when the crew dismounted. Wire-mesh rather than rubber tyres were specially designed to improve grip where the buggy’s decreased lunar weight meant less frictional pressure could be exerted on the dusty lunar surface. 32 inches by 9, the tyre structure was formed from fine zinc-coated woven steel strands attached to a spun aluminium wheel hub. On the flat, these large wheels cleared the buggy’s undercarriage a good 12 inches from the lunar terrain.

 

A closer look: the titanium treads, zinc-coated steel wire-mesh tyre, and brown fender on the LRV replica displayed in the National Air and Space Museum, Washington. (Image credit: NASA via Wikimedia Commons)

 

With a pattern of steel chevrons attached to the mesh’s main contact surface, sufficient traction was achieved for the Lunar Roving Vehicles to climb 25 degree-inclined slopes and overcome obstacles up to a foot tall. A frequent compulsory activity the Rover astronauts performed during an EVA excursion was to brush any accumulating lunar dust from the upward-facing battery-cooling radiators and the lunar communications relay unit to guarantee the batteries and TV circuits would not overheat. However, although not intentional participants of some cosmic dirt-track rally, with the loss of a wheel fender during a lunar traverse, the Apollo 16 LRV crew covered themselves and the LRV console in sufficient lunar dirt potentially to qualify. The lunar maps these astronauts were forced to clamp in place as a makeshift fender are today on display at the National Air and Space Museum.

 

image_of LRV antenna

The high-gain communications antenna with the TV camera in the stowed position on the Apollo 15 Lunar buggy chassis. (Image credit: PD-USGOV-NASA via Wikimedia Commons)

 

 

On the Moon John Young (Apollo 16) achieved the LRV speed record of 11kmph which ‘J’-Mission astronauts indicated was quite fast enough in an environment of 1/6 Earth’s gravity. LRV2 operators Young and Duke claimed that travelling down Sun or into the Sun meant that they could only see craters when they were over them and Apollo 17 Rover Astronauts Cernan and Schmitt said that a sensation of “overturning” was experienced when the LRV3 bounced over them. Although TV coverage with the high gain antenna was not possible while the LRV was moving, audio communication was maintained with the low gain antenna. Despite the footage limitations, the TV camera could be controlled remotely from Earth, enabling panoramic filming of the astronauts carrying out scientific studies at the Rover’s stopping stations.

 

Apollo 16 Orion’s land and launch site: as only the ‘ascent stage’ (grey upper half) of the Lunar Module could leave the Moon’s surface to return to Earth, besides crew there was little room for a Lunar Rover. (Image credit: NASA via Wikimedia Commons)

 

Harrison Schmitt, one of the last astronauts to ever operate an LRV on the Moon attributed mission success to the Lunar Roving Vehicle: “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.”

 

Station 8, Cochise Crater: Apollo 17 crew’s footprints depart the Lunar Roving Vehicle for the last time. It’s only a machine, but it still looks lonely. (Image credit: NASA via Wikimedia Commons)

 

When you next gaze at the Moon, imagine three lunar buggies that were destined for an extra-terrestrial world, standing on silent vigil close to the Apollo lander sites where they were abandoned 40 years ago. For the final service an LRV rendered its Apollo Mission crew was to film the Lunar Module and its crew blast-off from the landing platform and ascend back into space. Where others had failed, Apollo 17, the culmination of all previous J-Missions and the last chapter of the Apollo program, succeeded in attaining this eagerly- awaited footage.

 

 

(Please note that Armagh Planetarium is not affiliated with NASA or any company which built components of the LRV. We regret that we cannot help you trace, contact  or research people who worked on this project.)
FURTHER READING

LUNAR ROVING VEHICLE OPERATIONS HANDBOOK (link)

 

 

(Article by Nick Parke, Education Support Officer, updated 1 February 2016)


111 Comments

Gordon Panther · June 3, 2019 at 12:56

Good work Nick Parke and well done to ‘admin’ for all the helpful replies to queries. And particularly well done for not sinking to the level of a few of the correspondents. You must have the patience of a saint to continuously maintain politeness in the face of gross stupidity from conspiracists (I won’t put lipstick on a pig by suffixing the usual “theorists”). ‘Ignorance’ is, of course, absolutely fine (I’ll lead the charge – I hereby state I know next to nothing about almost everything; and as children we all start from knowing nothing). Creating and holding a staunch view, against all expert opinion and all available information, not to mention plain common sense, without having researched a subject is not ignorance – that is stupidity, plain and simple. Although, I suspect most such “conspiracists” are, in fact, simply flamers or trolls – people who, for some reason, gain enjoyment from baiting those who are simply providing a positive benefit to society by disseminating useful information – in this case, about (and this /is/ just “my opinion”; nothing more) – mankind’s greatest achievement and crowning glory. Hopefully only ‘…so far’ !
GP

a max 50 · December 20, 2018 at 14:13

Some genuinely interesting points you have written.Helped me a lot, just what I was looking for :D.

    harry ashton · February 15, 2019 at 16:25

    my teacher used this now we maked a MOON BUGGEE thanks mrs eastham

Scott McFerren · November 11, 2018 at 21:05

Can I send you some photos on a release kit that I found froma former RCA engineer? It is very interesting that RCA did mock ups with photos of the Apollo 15 mission. Thanks so much!!!

Grover Lampel · September 27, 2018 at 16:19

It was good to read.

Albert · July 23, 2018 at 09:27

How far away was the Apollo 17 lunar rover parked from the lunar module before final liftoff?

Ron Creel · May 15, 2018 at 19:02

Hello Heather,

I wish you luck as you try to inform readers about the Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle, which I worked on a few years ago.

I recommend that you refer your readers to the excellent 2012 Haynes “Lunar Rover Owners’ Workshop Manual”, whose authors (Christopher Riley, David Woods,and Phillip Dolling) I helped with writing.

That book tells you everything you need to know about those wonderful extra-terrestrial vehicles.

The Library of Congress number for that book is: 2012940365.

Best wishes,

Ron Creel

Laly · May 7, 2018 at 22:45

Hey thanks, great research I had and Essay to do in Science of lunar Rover this help me a lot thanks for it again. This was really interesting thank you once again.

Bert Willke · March 30, 2018 at 23:04

NASA must have considered building a foot-powered quadricycle Rover before choosing the much heavier electric Rover. I’m just guessing maybe (A) the astronauts’ backbacks would have had to be augmented to handle the extra continuous human workload, extra provisions and water, etc.; and when you work it all out, the electric Rover ends up adding less total weight to the mission. Or maybe (B) the electric Rover was a lot faster than can be achieved with a quadricycle, and there was no time to spare.

What were the actual considerations?

kaleb · October 13, 2017 at 15:22

if there was little to no gravity on the moon then how is it possible o drive a space rover on the moon with little to no gravity. wouldnt that mean that the rover would still foat off of the ground atleast 3 to 4 inches off of the grund?

    admin · October 17, 2017 at 13:38

    Hi Kaleb the moon does actually have gravity. Gravity on the moon is one sixth the gravity here on the Earth, meaning that the lunar rovers were able to drive around the moon. The rover travelled at a slow speed, and was designed more like a dirt buggy in order to handle the bumpy terrain of the moon.

allkindscap.com · June 10, 2017 at 14:02

Some truly tremendous work on behalf of the owner of this site, perfectly outstanding content material.

John Adkins · April 21, 2017 at 16:50

Hi, Can you tell me what the rivets that held the steel plates to the tyre tread on the LRV tyres were made of? There seems to be 3 colours of rivets, are they made form different materials?
Cheers, John.

semaj · November 29, 2016 at 19:56

Apollo 16 land and launch image show the hatch shut, is that right? Have you got the key? No, I thought you had it! Superimpose the image of the bloke in the photo all togged up and the hatch is too small unless he removes the back pack first. How come the ladders were to short? Bit risky wasn’t it? Just observations.

    admin · November 30, 2016 at 08:39

    Dear Semaj, thank you for your questions. You are correct, the hatch is shut and this can be seen more clearly in a higher resolution version of the image (link). As to your assertion that is it too small for an astronaut to pass through, well this is incorrect, as you know (because you have previously asked me and I have told you) it is 32 inches square and there are images of astronauts moving through it.

    The LM’s legs were designed to compress on contact with the surface to act as shock absorbers. The ladder was designed to match the minimum landing leg length (ie maximum compression); in the event all landings were made gently and the legs never compressed anywhere near their maximum. The lander was designed, regardless of leg compression, to allow astronauts to access and leave the Moon’s surface under lunar gravity conditions and it worked as designed.

    I hope this has helped you.

      john Rothwell · December 3, 2016 at 12:17

      Is it true there are plaques on the moon with the names of personnel who worked on the Luna rover project?

      I have also been told that personnel who worked for NASA on the Luna rover received a plaque on a price of moon rock to commemorate the achievement?

        admin · December 5, 2016 at 09:22

        Dear John, thank you for your questions.

        Is it true there are plaques on the moon with the names of personnel who worked on the Luna rover project?

        You are the second person to ask this but unfortunately I don’t know the answer. After searching haven’t seen anything else referring to it, but that doesn’t mean that something like this didn’t happen. I know various interplanetary probes including Mars rovers have carried lists of the names of everyone who worked on the project on microfilm, discs and chips.

        I have also been told that personnel who worked for NASA on the Luna rover received a plaque on a price of moon rock to commemorate the achievement?

        I am certain that this did not happen.

Chris Whitelaw · November 5, 2016 at 11:32

Take an ordinary laser pointer, and aim it at the light switch in your room. I bet you didn’t hit it first time, but you would have been close, right?

Now take that same laser pointer outside at night and aim it at a car parked five houses down. Harder?

So how, then are we supposed to believe that you could possibly hit a laser reflector array less than one metre square 250,000 miles away on a surface travelling through space?

It’s hard enough to keep the moon in view through a Barlow lense on an astronomical telescope.

As an a,auteur radio operator, I have played around with moonbounce many times. It is possible to bounce a radio signal off the moon. It is also possible to bounce a laser off the moon. However, the signal we get back is heavily degraded by (it just so happens) the exact refractive index of thee lunar surface.

We may be able to bounce a laser off the moon, but whether it is coming from a human-placed laser reflector is doubtful. For one thing, you would expect the return signal to be far stronger, even allowing for atmospheric degradation.

    admin · November 7, 2016 at 11:27

    Dear Chris, thank you for your comments. You might need to look a little bit more deeply into the Apollo Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment. Try the paper by Bender et al (1973). To very briefly answer your questions:

    So how, then are we supposed to believe that you could possibly hit a laser reflector array less than one metre square 250,000 miles away on a surface travelling through space?

    Astronomers have used tracking mounts capable of very accurately following celestial objects across the sky for more than a century (for example to take pin-sharp long exposure photographs). I’m unsure why you think this would be a problem. The laser beam diverges so that by the time it has reached the Moon it is 4-6km wide which obviously makes it easier to cover the areas where the reflectors are located.

    It’s hard enough to keep the moon in view through a Barlow lense on an astronomical telescope.

    I’m not sure that I agree with this. What kind of mount is your telescope on? Are you sure that it is correctly set up?

    …the (radio) signal we get back is heavily degraded by (it just so happens) the exact refractive index of thee lunar surface.

    Are you sure about this? I would have thought the lunar surface was essential opaque to radio waves. Why would this effect its radio reflectivity?

    We may be able to bounce a laser off the moon, but whether it is coming from a human-placed laser reflector is doubtful. For one thing, you would expect the return signal to be far stronger, even allowing for atmospheric degradation.

    I am sorry to say that you are wrong about this. Bender and his colleagues had previously bounced laser signals off the Moon’s surface, but once the reflectors were installed they got signals that were “10-100 times larger than the reflected intensity from the Moon’s surface”. I urge you to read their paper which I have linked to.

LieMeToTheMoon · November 2, 2016 at 21:49

Ban-bait #1: Me and My Shadow

https://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a15/AS15-85-11411HR.jpg

In 11411 from Apollo 15 the ‘not’s shadow continues to be seen to fall UNDER the rover.

An American citizen, not US subject.

    admin · November 7, 2016 at 11:03

    Dear LieMe, thank you for your comment although I’m unsure what your point is. The Sun was low in the sky, so the shadows of things on the surface were long. Have a look at the other photos taken about the same time (link), to see if they help you to understand.

Kimberly Heid · July 21, 2016 at 06:50

We just looked at the moon, and upper left crater had something black moving around it.

    admin · July 21, 2016 at 13:30

    Dear Kimberly, thank you for your comment. I’m sorry to say that I do not know what you saw. Craters seen with the unaided eye are huge – hundreds of miles across, so your black thing would have been enormous if it was on the Moon. My best guess would be that you saw something small and comparatively close between you and the Moon.

JW · April 14, 2016 at 03:10

Thanks for the article.

I was always interested how they deployed the LRV and the material they used for the tires. Your article answered these well and gave me some information that I did not know as well.

semaj · March 5, 2016 at 13:57

The moon buggy and Jim Irwin with Mount Hadley in the background shows the buggy facing away from the camera and must have driven across the foreground of what was to become this picture. This is determined by the FACT that all buggy photos show the high gain antenna at the front of said buggy, therefore why are there NO tyre tracks visible but plenty of footprints. There are also NO tyre tracks visible from the abandoned buggy/rover either, why is that?
To Oliditi, I understand some science, a lot of technology and some maths, I have to as a qualified engineer! What I do not understand is why people blindly believe a public funded government/military controlled establishment without question. Consider your reply very well because there is the old saying ” if the cap fits wear it”.

    John Woody · May 18, 2016 at 09:02

    Hi semaj, interesting point, could you give me the exact photo number from the apollo archive?
    Cheers, John.

      admin · May 18, 2016 at 09:19

      Dear John, I am not sure if Semaj still visits this site. In case he doesn’t see this, the image in question is AS15-86-11603HR found at http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/gallery/images/apollo/apollo15/html/as15-86-11603.html (link).

      I hope this helps you.

      Justin · January 7, 2018 at 14:17

      To me it looks like the rover came from the right side of the picture towards the object on the ground, then took a sharp right turn to end up where the rover sits in the picture. The footprints are mostly covering the tracks of the rover but you can still see faint turning ruts.

semaj · March 3, 2016 at 21:57

Sorry I have reread my post and I cannot see where I said the moon landings were fake as there were no disasters. What I did ask was what were the chances? The Russians had lots of disasters. I bet there were a lot of red faces at the Kremlin when they realised the US had smuggled out all the best Nazis! All the information comes from NASA, Google is a search engine, no one from Google has been to the moon unless you know otherwise??

    mark · June 23, 2016 at 15:41

    That is quite untrue. The russians got as many if not more scientists out. The only difference is the Russians shipped them all back to Germany soon after they got all the info they needed.
    We gave them citizenship (about 700 directly under Werner Von Braun) in “operation paperclip”. Note those were ex nazi and gestapo members.

      admin · June 24, 2016 at 07:29

      Dear Mark, I am in agreement with you that Operation Paperclip was a morally dubious enterprise and that many of the people given US citizenship had been members of the Nazi party. However are you sure that any were members of the Gestapo? Can you provide a source for this?

      I am sceptical about this as the Gestapo was not a scientific or engineering organisation.

semaj · February 6, 2016 at 20:19

Films and stills of the rovers in motion supposedly on the lunar surface show plumes of dust being thrown up and dust also shown on space suits but in previous discussions admin, whoever you are, stated that there was no blast crater under the LEM or dust on the feet of the LEM because it would not be thrown out due to the lack of gravity. Why the difference in dust dispersal then? No rovers broke down, no LEMs failed to function, no space suits failed, no launches failed, no one died (only the whistle blower Gus and his unfortunate colleagues), just what are the chances, unbelievable!

    Oladiti · February 11, 2016 at 18:40

    Semaj, there is so much information now openly available on the moon landings that it is clear how it was achieved. Google and the NASA website is freely accessible online.

    Just because you don’t personally understand all the science, technology and mathematics that was employed, doesn’t mean that it is unbelievable or impossible. I came to understand it by examining and learning about the different necessary Apollo systems and mission stages piece by piece. This method may well work for you if you try it.

    The USA has had many shameful episodes in its history, but the moon landings were a glorious, positive achievement.

    Anyone stating that there is no gravity on the moon is mistaken – it is well known that planets, moons and other bodies in space have their own gravitational fields proportional to their size and density.

    Astronauts walking and using the LRV on the lunar surface would have been impossible without the moons (low) gravity. Certainly the LRV would throw up plumes of lunar dust in use – probably more than it would throw up on Earth at the same speed.

    Your last argument is still weaker than the others you have raised – the moon landings must have been fake because there were no disasters! A fallacy of begging the question – you are already assuming that success was not a possible outcome, according to you, only faked moon landings or failed real moon landing attempts were possible events.

      mark · June 23, 2016 at 15:39

      you did not answer his question.
      how is it that rover apparently kicked up so much dust yet no dust on the landing pads of the LEM?
      Please explain. And no generic NASA marketing propaganda please.

        admin · June 24, 2016 at 08:48

        Dear Mark, I don’t know if Oladiti still comes to this site so I’ll just point you to our article 15 Questions about the Moon Landings (link) where this subject is discussed. Remember

        …the Descent Engine was throttled back in the final stages of landing and in fact was shut down 5ft above the surface. The chances of dust gathering on the pads was very low as the dust than can be seen being blasted away in films of the landing is blowing underneath, rather than over, the footpads.

sam mead · January 30, 2016 at 08:00

I was woundering do you have any info on the other engineers who worked on the buggy as my great uncle who recently passed away worked on this prodject he was an electrical enginer

    admin · February 1, 2016 at 10:29

    Dear Sam, I’m sorry but we cannot help you with this. You must know who employed him, perhaps you could contact his former employers directly.

    john Rothwell · December 3, 2016 at 12:28

    Sam
    My father worked on the lunar rover as a chemical/design engineer. Unfortunately he passed away some 30 years ago. I was also looking for people my father may have worked with.

Tim · January 2, 2016 at 23:31

How is it that the drawing of the rover doesn’t indicate the presence of the two batteries? Where were they located?

    admin · January 4, 2016 at 10:41

    Dear Tim, thanks for your question. The batteries are located (under a thermal covering) between the two front wheels. Here’s a diagram showing this.

    LRV battery locations

    Looking at the diagram in our article, it seems to concentrate on the ancillary gear rather than the rover itself so I assume that’s why the battery location isn’t shown.

    Here is a link to the LRV’s manual which may be of interest to you.

Peter Grafton · November 17, 2015 at 00:58

My dad worked for an electronic company in Milwaukee, WI and always told me he worked on parts for the lunar rovers, and his name is on a plaque affixed to the river. Is there a way to find this information?
Thank you.

    admin · November 17, 2015 at 10:08

    Dear Peter, thanks for your question, unfortunately I don’t know the answer. I have never heard of this before and after searching haven’t seen anything else referring to it, but that doesn’t mean that something like this didn’t happen. I know various interplanetary probes including Mars rovers have carried lists of the names of everyone who worked on the project on microfilm, discs and chips. You could try contacting Boeing (who assembled the LRVs) or the company in Milwaukee which employed your father. I’d be interested to hear if you find out more.

lucy von bach · October 7, 2015 at 19:11

I would really like to know more about the camera and mechanical arm mechanisms used in the Lunar rover. Was solar energy used to power the rover at all times? if not what other energy sources were used? if they did use solar power, which I’m sure they did, what type of battery or cells was the energy stored in?
what types of communication systems were used other than the high-gain antenna?

Simon · June 18, 2015 at 16:34

I believe the tire treads on the LRV were titanium not steel.

    admin · June 18, 2015 at 17:20

    Dear Simon, thank you, that is indeed correct. I have fixed the caption and just want to point out that it was me and not Nick who made the original error!

Mike · May 28, 2015 at 23:02

17 months to develop so over 200kg of weight would be added to the mission payload and none of the other Apollo vehicles required a redesign or even added propellant for the LM! Amazing….. . What people will believe!

    admin · May 29, 2015 at 08:26

    Dear Mike, thank you for your comment but I think you must have forgotten that Apollos 15-17 were “J series” missions which used an upgraded Lunar Module designed specifically to carry a heavier payload to the Moon (and for a longer stay there).

    Comparing the LMs for Apollo 14 and 15, the Apollo 15 LM (with an LRV) carried an extra 1150 lb of propellant and had an improved descent engine. From the earliest stages of the project, it also been intended to take some sort of vehicle to the Moon.

    You might enjoy our article NASA’s Lunar Module: Everything You Need to Know (link).

    mark · June 23, 2016 at 15:35

    The russians actually did research into the Saturn V and they found it could not possibly have lifted the cargo that it was said to carry.
    And they replaced the Saturn V with the shuttle which was much more expensive yet it’s cargo capacity was smaller than the alleged Saturn V.
    Why replace it then??
    So yeah unfortunately the nasa story is just that a story….

      admin · June 24, 2016 at 09:33

      Dear Mark, thank you for your comments. Regardless of the opinions of “the russians” (which ones?), the Saturn V could lift the payloads it was designed for, including the 77 tonne Skylab space station.

      Your comparison of the Saturn V and Shuttle lacks any context. Briefly the Saturn V was designed around the Apollo spacecraft and their lunar mission profile (so had to be able to send about 45 tonne payloads to the Moon). This required an expensive non-reusable rocket optimised to send up a heavy payload and for nothing else. The Shuttle was an entirely different concept designed around a mission of putting a crew plus payload of up to 29 tonnes into low Earth orbit and returning to Earth to be reused. This meant a less efficient and expensive vehicle with launch weight “wasted” by the weight of wings, reusable heat shield, landing gear etc. Over time the intention was that these compromises would be offset by the fact that each Shuttle would be reused possibly hundreds of times (which never happened).

      It is disingenuous to say the Shuttle “replaced” the Saturn V as they were designed to do different jobs.

Mako · April 10, 2015 at 18:56

Thank you for this – I was looking for a decent resource to explain how it was stowed and deployed, and you delivered. Interestingly, yours was the first link that Google provided me with – not NASA – and I’ve never been here before.

So you must be doing something right.

Dirk Bumgardner · December 26, 2014 at 02:03

Is it true the rover battery is still holding a charge enough to run ?

    admin · January 5, 2015 at 09:10

    Hi Dirk, no I think that is untrue.

Robert · November 23, 2014 at 17:12

When I was younger I was a bit of a conspiracy theorist fan, ( a 60’s kid). But now I am all grown up I base my beliefs on information available. The Moon missions are genuine. As mere plebs, we just don’t have the intellect to understand it.

    admin · November 24, 2014 at 08:38

    Hi Robert, thanks for your comments. I would disagree with the last sentence though, there’s nothing about any space mission too complex for non-specialist to understand. It’s rather self-defeating to say there is.

      lewis · July 5, 2016 at 11:04

      i love this website it helped me out a lot thanks

        MR MEME! · April 10, 2017 at 23:40

        this website was very helpful. It helped me with my new invention for 2050 project. my group has to come up with a new invention for 2050. we choose to make a space rover that is personaized so you can send it to the moon.

    mark · June 23, 2016 at 15:32

    actually the more information that becomes available the more unlikely it becomes it was ever achieved. my evolution in opinion in this has been the exact opposite. the more i read and research the more i doubt it happened.
    currently i am close to 100% sure it didn’t happen and was all a cold war propaganda campaign with only unmanned missions while the astronaut photos were all done in staged environment on earth.

Curious · September 25, 2014 at 02:32

Oh and another one

we are to told that the light reflecting off the moons surface is the reason why there was light where there would be shadows cast from the sun….so why didn’t the astronauts drive the lunar rover over to the darkness 100 yards away to look at the stars? and even take a picture of them? or does the sunlight move to wherever the astronauts move?

Thanks in advance

    admin · September 25, 2014 at 11:23

    I’m not sure exactly what you are are asking here. I’ll deal with your last question first.

    does the sunlight move to wherever the astronauts move?

    No, it doesn’t. Why would it? Just as an aside, with the Moon’s rotation being much, much slower than than Earth’s shadows would move much more slowly there across a lunar day.

    so why didn’t the astronauts drive the lunar rover over to the darkness 100 yards away to look at the stars? and even take a picture of them?

    Photographing and looking at the stars from the Moon was not any kind of objective for the Moon missions. After all, they would not have looked any different from they do in Earth orbit or even the Earth’s surface.

    However there was actually a Far-Ultraviolet Camera/Spectroscope taken to the Moon on the Apollo 16 mission and astronauts brought the film back with them. This was used to observed celestial bodies in UV wavelengths which cannot pass through the Earth’s atmosphere. I’m not sure why this instrument was taken to the Moon as it would have worked equally in orbit, I know a second one of these devices was fitted to Skylab perhaps Apollo 16 was the only suitable mission at the time.

    By the way, all Apollo landings took place during the lunar day so the Sun was blazing down and illuminating the astronaut’s surroundings, so star gazing would have been very tricky.

      mark · June 23, 2016 at 15:27

      Actually you are very wrong about that. They would look slightly different. Enough different so as for any astronomer to be able to verify whether they were indeed on the moon. The fact that stars are absent from any photographs provided by NASA from apollo program is quite telling.
      Actually a photo of the sky from the moon would be quite spectacular and very worthy of taking many photos of.

        admin · June 24, 2016 at 07:50

        Dear Mark, I am sorry but you are not in full possession of the facts about this. Even the closest star to the Earth is more than 12 million times further away than the Moon is from the Earth. The shift in position of stars as seen from the Moon compared to the stars as seen from the Earth would be so minuscule as to be impossible to see by eye and extremely challenging, verging on impossible, to measure by a professional astronomical observatory. After all, over six months the Earth has moved 300 million km around the Sun, roughly 750 times further than the Earth to Moon distance, but the stars do not appear to have changed position apart from to astronomers.

        To the human eye, the view of the night sky from the Moon would be nice, but not significantly better than the view from a dark mountain site on Earth.

        By the way, planetariums can simulate the sky seen from different vantage points in the Universe. IF stars were somehow bright enough to capture on film under the camera settings used by the astronauts and IF the stars were so close that moving out to the Moon would make a difference to their positions this could have been simulated.

          Dre · February 4, 2017 at 16:47

          So seen pic of the earth claiming to be from satellite , Is it photoshopped? Not to mention the smart scientific research ‘Neil degas Tyson ‘ says the earth is not a sphere yet oblique … … the photo shows round… and the study on the earth spinning 1000+ mph …? Who monitors this and what’s changes in speed have they noticed… per my research have found none. Thanks. And before you assume I’m the ‘conspiracy theorist wack job…’ I only ask because I see way to many inconsistencies.

            John Adkins · April 24, 2017 at 11:52

            Hi Dre, I understand that the earth is an oblate sphere, the diameter is indeed smaller at the poles than at the equator. The diameter at the equator is;
            12,756
            12,713
            at the poles.
            So the diameter at the equator is about 0.33% larger at the equator. Assuming there is no distortion in the lens taking the image and your monitor is perfect, you would still have an enormous problem in seeing the difference in the two diameter values.
            Cheers, John.

          casey · September 12, 2017 at 15:52

          there is no atmoshere on the moon so it would look different

        john Rothwell · December 3, 2016 at 12:41

        My father worked on the lunar rover. I think if there was a conspiracy to be able to keep it from the thousands of engineers working on the project is just amazing. My father was very proud of his and NASA’s achievements, he spoke of failing on other projects with BAE including the concord but always defended the lunar rover and that’s despite him being British and residing in the UK.

    tim · January 27, 2015 at 21:39

    I’ve noticed that too. And you never seem to find photos of the earth taken from the moon. If it was me up there I would have taken 100’s of photos of the earth – instead of the mind blowingly dull photos they took of the capsule and the car – and the little hills that all look as if they’re made from plasticine

      admin · January 28, 2015 at 11:33

      Hi Tim, on most Apollo missions the Earth was high in the sky so doesn’t appear in “landscape” images. Apollo 17 was the exception to this and the astronauts made an effort to include our planet in some of their pictures. Also on Apollo 11 one of the astronauts (probably Armstrong) leaned back to picture Earth over the LM. A similar picture of a crescent Earth was taken on Apollo 14.I hope you’ll agree that here are indeed photos of the Earth from the Moon’s surface taken by the Apollo astronauts. Here are some links:

      Earth over LM taken on Apollo 11
      Crescent Earth over Apollo 14 LM Antares
      Harrison Schmitt with Earth on Apollo 17
      Eugene Cernan with Earth on Apollo 17

      Note that the Earth seen from the Moon is far smaller than people think, movies and artist’s impressions tend to make it far too big!

      I disagree that all the photos taken by the astronauts are dull (they’re photos from another world after all!) The Apollo crews were trained to document the mission by photographing every detail of how their equipment was deployed and used, how and where samples where obtained and so on. Making dramatic images was not a priority (this was probably a mistake), despite this there are some really striking shots of the Moon’s magnificent desolation in the astronauts’ photography, especially from the final three missions. I really recommend the book Full Moon by Michael Light and Andrew Chaikin (1999) which lots of lovely and sometimes rarely seen Apollo imagery.

      Judging distances on the Moon, lacking in terrestrial reference points is hard, but do bear in mind some of the “hills” are really respectable mountains in the distance!

        Mike · May 28, 2015 at 23:06

        The earth is 4 times the size of the moon when viewed from the moon. There are several Apollo photographs that show it to be a lot smaller than that. This is an impossibility.

          admin · May 29, 2015 at 10:43

          Dear Mike, I agree that the from the Moon Earth ought to appear four times as wide as the Moon does in Earth’s sky but are you sure that

          There are several Apollo photographs that show it to be a lot smaller than that.

          Can you provide a link to measurements showing this?

          Do remember that the Moon is tiny in our sky and note that movies and artists’ impressions with scenes on the Moon’s surface usually grossly exaggerate the apparent size of the Earth.

        mark · June 23, 2016 at 15:30

        Unfortunately they got the scale wrong and the earth appears much smaller than it should. The earth would be looming in the sky – 6 times larger than what the size of the moon from earth vantage point. Yet the earth appears about the size of the moon seen from earth. Quite a booboo from NASA there….

          admin · June 24, 2016 at 08:35

          Dear Mark, once again I see disappointing errors in the material you have researched, these invalidate the conclusions you draw from them. The Earth is about 3.7 times as wide as the Moon, so from the Moon the Earth appears 3.7 times (not 6 times) as wide as the Moon does from the Earth. Remember too that the Moon is much smaller in our sky than people think. Enlarging it 3.7 times is not going to mean it would dominate the sky.

          Movies and artists’ impressions virtually always grossly inflate the size of the Earth from the Moon depicting it as looming large over the surface. You can see an example of this at the moment in the Independence Day: Resurgence movie which has an inaccurately large Earth hanging in the lunar sky. This is an artistic decision, not a scientific depiction.

          There is nothing unexplained in the images of Earth returned from the Moon,

Curious · September 25, 2014 at 02:27

Why was the moon’s horizon only 100 yards away in any direction?

    admin · September 25, 2014 at 09:13

    I’m not sure you’re right about that. To show you what I mean, have a look at the photo on this page of Jim Irwin with Mt. Hadley in the background, the mountain is about 4km high so it must be several kilometres away.

    From geometry, for a 2m tall human on the Moon, the horizon ought to be about 2.5km away. I hope this helps.

    tim · January 27, 2015 at 21:35

    I’ve noticed the same thing!!

    semaj · February 6, 2016 at 20:03

    It appears that way because they used front screen projection in the studio just like they did in 2001 a Space Odyssey which was produced a year before the supposed Apollo landings. See Stanley Kubrick, producer, who was commissioned by NASA (Never A Straight Answer) to help with the film production! Also check out the same backgrounds in different missions supposedly on different areas of the moon’s surface.

    mark · June 23, 2016 at 15:25

    simply because it was staged.

      admin · June 24, 2016 at 08:49

      Dear Mark, thank you for your comment, but do remember that your opinions are not facts.

channa sadoo · September 2, 2014 at 11:00

hey can we find such projects to make a small satellite vehicle to test over own ideas

    admin · September 2, 2014 at 12:02

    I’m not quite sure what you are asking, but if you are interested in sending a rover of your own to the Moon, you ought to look at the Google X-Prize (link).

PF · June 4, 2014 at 02:24

I remember watching men on the moon for hours as it actually happened and would like to watch them again. I have been wanting this for decades – since the advent of videos. Where could I get videos of all of the moon walks in their entirety?

I don’t want commentary – other than the voices of the astronauts.

Thank you in advance.

    admin · June 4, 2014 at 06:20

    Hi, I believe there is a company called Spacecraft Films that sells complete unedited copies of the movies made on Apollo missions, so that might be a starting point for you. I have never seen any of their DVDs so I can’t really say anything else, but I hope this helps you.

Bean · May 30, 2014 at 20:16

Thank You for sharing these great photos. I am 43, and when i view these images and all the great historical information, i feel like a kid again viewing all the Great NASA live video. I am still in awe of the Space Program, and im sure I will continue to be amazed. I look forward to sharing these images with my children as well. –

Jim · March 21, 2014 at 04:48

I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and watched the footage on tv, we did not have the technology to land on the moon, and another thing i have always wondered even as a boy. How did they get the lunar rover on the moon? I have built countless scale models of all kinds of things , From cars to rockets ,space shuttles lunar landers . and have seen diagrams of the lunar landers, Funny! there has never been any mention of storage space or lunar buggy attached to the craft .. Curious .Dont Ya think?

    admin · March 21, 2014 at 10:05

    Dear Jim,

    I grew up in the 60′s and 70′s and watched the footage on tv

    So did I!

    we did not have the technology to land on the moon

    I don’t understand why you could think that.

    How did they get the lunar rover on the moon? I have built countless scale models of all kinds of things , From cars to rockets ,space shuttles lunar landers . and have seen diagrams of the lunar landers, Funny! there has never been any mention of storage space or lunar buggy attached to the craft

    The rovers were cleverly designed be folded and stowed in the Descent Stage of the Lunar Module. There is no secret about this, it was widely covered in the BBC broadcasts of the last three Apollo landings and in UK magazines and newspapers. This is a link to a manual prepared by Boeing, who built the rovers with complete engineering detail (as a modeller, I’m sure you will find this fascinating as I do). The deployment of the rover from the LM is extensively discussed starting at Section 1-67. The blog post you are commenting on included a video of the deployment being tested on Earth.

    Photos of Apollo 15’s rover folded for attachment on the LM are at this link. You can see it attached to the Descent Stage (before it was covered in thermal protection material- the white squares are the seats) at this link. There are videos for this rover being deployed on the Moon at this link and this link.

    It took a quick online search to find these, there is a lot more detail out there if you want to look.

      mark · June 23, 2016 at 15:21

      (Content removed- I am sorry but at 1285 words this comment is too long – it’s only 400 words shorter than the article itself. As you can see, I have published your shorter and more focused comments – ADMIN)

    Robert Schmidt · April 9, 2016 at 22:43

    Yes I would love to see footage of the DEPLOYMENT ..that will be interesting indeed !

Junaid Ahmed · December 20, 2013 at 20:23

thank you 🙂

Andre · December 4, 2013 at 02:56

hahahahaha

h
a

    admin · December 4, 2013 at 10:14

    Dear Andre, I’m glad you’re enjoying your visits here, but how about some some content in your next post?

siddharth · October 20, 2013 at 11:49

roving robots achieve a successful technical value in server abilities and collecting samples from planets. Astronauts also helped by it to travel easily on surface of moon

    Andre · December 4, 2013 at 02:56

    hahahahaha

    Curious · September 25, 2014 at 03:33

    where did they need to travel to?

      admin · September 25, 2014 at 09:19

      As Nick said in his first paragraph the LRV was “Created primarily to extend the range of terrain that the two Apollo crew members could explore during their stay on the Moon’s surface”.

      The Apollo crews followed pretty strict “itineraries” of interesting geological sites to visit laid down by the mission planners. Many of these lay further from the planned landing sites than astronauts could go on foot so bringing a vehicle along was an obvious way to increase the amount of data and samples the crew could bring back.

        wldman222 · October 22, 2014 at 03:37

        Why would they need to “dust” off the batteries to prevent them from overheating? Did they need the non-existent “air” to blow on them to keep them cool? You would think the dust would prevent the direct sunlight from making them overheat. Doesn’t make any sense….

          admin · October 22, 2014 at 09:13

          Hi, preventing the LRV’s batteries from overheating was a major concern in the vehicle’s design phase. There were experiments to investigate this and one major finding was that dark dust (and lunar surface material is very dark) accumulating on the radiators meant the radiator would absorb a lot of solar hear, reducing their efficiency. As a result it was very important to remove dust from the radiators.

          If you would like to learn more about this, there is a very informative and detailed presentation about the design and practical experience of the LRV’s thermal controls by one of the engineers who worked on it at this link.

          I hope you found this helpful.

          Liz · June 24, 2016 at 05:02

          The batteries cool themselves by RADIATING heat. Dust is a thermal insulator as you should know

        john Rothwell · December 3, 2016 at 12:56

        Admin

        Do you have any more photos or videos people working on the lunar rover?

        My father (John Rothwell) worked on the rover but unfortunately he passed away from cancer some 30 years ago. So all his contracts died with him. He was British as may have been the only Brit on the design team.

        Thanks

        John

          admin · December 5, 2016 at 09:25

          Dear John, I regret that Armagh Observatory and Planetarium is not affiliated with NASA or any company which built components of the LRV. We regret that we cannot help you trace, contact or research people who worked on this project.

          Could you contact his former employers to see if they could help you?

Scottie Stone · July 30, 2013 at 19:21

Hello there! I’m just a car salesman from Arkansas, but I sold a vehicle to a John Davidson this week. He told me he was one of three engineers to design the moon rover. I know that isn’t very specific, but I was wandering if you could tell me any information you may know about him. He was very passionate about the topic, and at the age of 86, he is blind and crippled. I’d love to be able to contact him and tell him that someone remembered him or documented some of his work. Thanks.

    dashaunna · April 15, 2015 at 19:01

    I know John Davidson. His work was amazing and he was a great man.

      john Rothwell · December 1, 2016 at 18:06

      Do you remember a British man called John Rothwell, I believe he worked as a chemical engineer/designer?

    brandon · September 16, 2015 at 12:35

    why would you sell a vehicle to a blind and crippled man

      Ryan · October 3, 2015 at 21:09

      And what kind of car dealer doesn’t have enough information on someone to be able to call them later? Ever car I’ve ever bought the salesman called me a few days later to see if I was happy.

      me · October 21, 2015 at 00:13

      because he needed a car. The man would know if he could drive or not.

What's on the Moon? - Space Skills Space Skills · April 18, 2016 at 12:11

[…] more.  The image below shows the Apollo 15 landing site, which was the first mission to use the lunar rover.  The black lines show the routes that the astronauts drove the rover along, and there are also […]

All about the Apollo 15 Moonlanding | Astronotes · May 20, 2015 at 12:39

[…] plus a longer hovering time to allow its crew to make a pinpoint landing. Among its cargo was a Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), a 4-wheel drive electric car created by Boeing to widen the terrain visited by the […]

Folding structures in space – What are the potential benefits and problems? | CL-UAT · December 29, 2014 at 22:47

[…] shows the stowed rover being loaded into the LM. https://www.armaghplanet.com/blog/nasas-lunar-rover-everything-you-need-to-know.html shows part of the deployment process in one of the included […]

Parts of a Lunar Rover Antenna | Family - Popular Question & Answer · January 27, 2014 at 01:15

[…] Helpful Resources NASA's Lunar Rover: Everything You Need to Know | Astronotes […]

Apollo 18: the truth | Astronotes · October 15, 2013 at 03:23

[…] spacesuits permitting greater comfort and mobility and they rolled over the Moon’s terrain in Lunar Roving Vehicles to increase the area explored. The Lunar Modules used were of an updated design allowing heavier […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.