The Viking Missions

The Viking spacecraft was made up of an orbiter and a lander. Langley awarded development of the orbiter to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, which would also be responsible for tracking and data acquisition and its Mission Control and Computing Center. Martin Marietta Aerospace in Denver, Colorado was awarded the contract to engineer and build the lander. Two Viking spacecraft would be built and NASA assigned its Lewis Research Center to procure and configure the...

Launch vehicle and spacecraft

The size and weight of the MSL and its spacecraft will require a more powerful launch vehicle than the Boeing Delta II used for the previous Mars rover missions. The entire MSL spacecraft payload is expected to be 2,800 kilograms with a heat shield spacecraft diameter of 4.5 meters. The Viking 1 and 2 landers and their orbiters were launched aboard Titan Centaur rockets with solid rocket motor boosters. The Titan IV rocket was retired in 2005 so available alternatives have been studied. The...

Teaching the astronauts to be geologists

Silver knew these astronauts had acute observation skills, but he wanted to direct their attention toward enhancing the scientific return of their missions by honing their ability not only to identify the types of rocks they might find, but also to determine how they might have been formed. Silver wanted to train them to be able to verbalize what they saw for the sake of the scientific teams back on Earth. He also recognized that the astronauts already had full plates, as far as training was...

The Mobility Subsystem

The largest subsystem of the LRV was the Mobility Subsystem, which consisted of the chassis, and the equipment and controls required to suspend, propel, brake and steer the rover. This included the forward, center and rear chassis, suspension, wheels, drive control electronics, traction drives, brakes, steering linkage, fluid dampers (shock absorbers) and the hand controller used to steer, accelerate and brake the LRV. Boeing brought in General Motors and its A.C. Electronics Defense Research...

Van Serg Crater

Their next destination on the rover was the small crater identified as Van Serg. Measuring 90 m in diameter, it was far smaller than Henry, Shakespeare and Cochise craters near the North Massif. Those craters measured hundreds of meters in diameter. Van Serg appeared to be sharply defined from orbital photographs and Cernan and Schmitt were to sample its dark mantle and sub-floor material. They drove around the southeast, subdued rim of Cochise Crater and soon spotted Van Serg. They had been...

The Night Launch Of Apollo

Days before the scheduled launch of Apollo 17, all the motel rooms in Cape Canaveral, Titusville and the surrounding small towns were booked. This last launch of Apollo brought in the news media from across the United States and from around the world. Many individuals traveled by car and motor home from as far away as California and Alaska to find any place they could park their vehicle to see the majestic Saturn V in the distance. All of them wanted to be part of this historic event. It was...

Eva3 The Last Day On The Moon

Gordon Fullerton, the Wakeup CapCom, roused Cernan and Schmitt from their sleep at 160 hours and 25 minutes GET to start the third and last day of Apollo 17's exploration of Taurus-Littrow. It was Wednesday, 13 December 1972. Throughout the entire mission, the Earth was lower to the Moon's horizon than for any other Apollo mission, and Cernan described the Earth's continents that were visible from the Lunar Module's window. Robert Parker soon came online as the CapCom for EVA preparations and...

The Lunar Roving Vehicle Request For Proposals

Early Wheel Design

Mueller, Associate Administrator for the Office of Manned Space Flight, selected the Lunar Roving Vehicle as the means Apollo astronauts would use to traverse and explore the Moon. On 26 May, the crew of Apollo 10 -Thomas P. Stafford, John Young and Eugene Cernan - splashed down in the Pacific Ocean after a completely successful mission designed to duplicate every step of Apollo 11, apart from landing on the surface. On 29 May, the Office of Manned Space Flight issued a...

Traverse Planning And Mission Geologic Training For The Jmissions

In October 1969, USGS geologist Gordon Swann submitted his proposal to NASA to be Principal Investigator on the Geology Experiment Team for Apollo 14 and 15. When Swann's proposal was accepted, he asked Gerald Schaber to be one of his co-investigators for those missions. This specifically involved traverse planning and subsequent mission geologic training and traverse map production. With the addition of the LRV for Apollo 15, traverse planning and training grew considerably. Swann asked...

Lunar Vehicle Testing At The Usgs

In December 1963, Shoemaker appointed John McCauley as co-investigator for the Surveyor Lunar Roving Vehicle (SLRV). This was a small robotic vehicle about one meter long and half-a-meter wide and weighing approximately 45 kg. NASA conceived this vehicle to be soft-landed on the lunar surface, and to then, as its name stated, survey the surrounding area, take stereoscopic images and beam them back to Earth, as well as performing other functions. NASA contracted with Bendix Corporation and...

The Lunar Exploration And Science Conferences Of 1965 And 1967

In July 1965, NASA's Manned Space Science Coordinating Committee sponsored a conference in Falmouth, Massachusetts. Lasting two weeks, the Summer Conference on Lunar Exploration and Science was convened to map out a ten-year program of lunar exploration, with the emphasis on manned exploration. Working groups were formed in the areas of geology, geophysics, bioscience, geochemistry, astronomy, lunar atmospheric measurements and cartography. In a general sense, the conference looked at five...

The Boeingmarshall Space Flight Center Collaboration

The Marshall Space Flight Center had always been a very autonomous NASA center, whether it was engineering and building its own hardware in support of the Apollo program, or overseeing contractors responsible for building the hardware MSFC required. Although Boeing won the contract to build the LRV, test units and related equipment, MSFC would remain very much in Boeing's back pocket for the entire duration of the program. Marshall managers and engineers knew from GM-DRL built a -scale model of...

Apollo 17 Landing Site Selection

Deliberation on the landing site for Apollo 17 actually began during discussions regarding the landing site for Apollo 16 because the Apollo Site Selection Board (ASSB) considered the last two lunar landing missions complementary in their preference for lunar highlands. When the ASSB met on 3 June 1971 to select the Apollo 16 site, it also wanted to designate a prime site candidate for Apollo 17. The principal debate for the Apollo 16 landing site was between Descartes and Alphonsus on the...

Early rover prototypes

However, the space agency decided to cancel the SLRV program, choosing instead to rely on the forthcoming Surveyor lander missions and photography from the Lunar Orbiter probes that were scheduled for their first mission in 1966. GM's SLRV was returned to JPL and went into storage, all but forgotten. More than ten years later, the SLRV was rediscovered and restored to functionality on a shoestring budget and the reborn project became a technology testbed. The first thing to be developed was a...

The Lunar Roving Vehicle Wins The Mobility Debate

As late as mid-1968, numerous contractors still held the view of using dual Saturn V launches to support extensive Apollo missions and their considerable hardware requirements. For example, in May 1968 GMDRL became AC-Electronics Defense Research Laboratories and published a presentation titled Roving Vehicles for Apollo Lunar Exploration Program. The presentation discussed the work the General Motors division had conducted and its relevant experience in the development of lunar surface...

A fender crisis averted

As Schmitt made for the deployment site, however, it would be the LRV that suffered some inadvertent damage. Instructions for the fender repair were transmitted to the Apollo 17 crew. Pages from the USGS Lunar Surface Map Package were taped together inside the Lunar Module and then clamped to the damaged fender. It worked surprisingly well. (NASA) Instructions for the fender repair were transmitted to the Apollo 17 crew. Pages from the USGS Lunar Surface Map Package were taped together inside...

The Sculptured Hills

Let me tell you, this rover is a machine. I don't know if it saw that hill we're climbing, but I did,'' Cernan commented to Houston as they drove toward the Sculptured Hills. The terrain was undulating and far from flat. Cernan stopped the rover briefly for Schmitt to take a sample from a roughly 40 m dark-rimmed crater with scattered small blocks inside the rim. These turned out to be instant rock,'' the phrase they used to describe lunar soil compacted by meteor impact. Geologically speaking,...

Books

Baldanza, Joseph and MacKinnon, Douglas Footprints The 12 Men Who Walked on the Moon Reflect on Their Flights, Their Lives, and the Future. New York Acropolis Books 1989 Beattie, Don Taking Science to the Moon Lunar Experiments and the Apollo Program. The Johns Hopkins University Press 2001. Benson, Charles D. & Faherty, William B Moonport A History of Apollo Launch Facilities and Operations. NASA History Series No. SP-4204, Washington, D.C. 1978. Benson, Michael Beyond Visions of the...

The Lunokhods Russias marvelous robotic rovers

In the fall of 1971, Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) thermal control engineers were applying experiences from the successful use of the first LRV during the Apollo 15 mission, and preparing for the next Moon exploration mission. A very interesting document was delivered to me as one of the LRV thermal engineers. This document was an unexpected English translation describing the Russian Lunokhod-1, Mobile Lunar Laboratory. Myself and others at NASA had been remotely following American space...

Apollo 17 Crew Selection

The cancellation of three Apollo missions and the reshuffling of the surviving missions, ending with Apollo 17, caused considerable consternation in the Astronaut Office. Eugene Cernan, Ron Evans and Joe Engle had been backup crew for Apollo 14 and, based on Deke Slayton's established crew rotation, these three would be the prime crew for Apollo 17. However, high level discussions had been taking place in Houston regarding the last crew. Johnson Space Center Director Robert Gilruth and...

Pathfinder and Sojourner design

The Mars Pathfinder program was an example of concurrent engineering under a pressing schedule and immovable budget. The whole spacecraft was, in fact, a series of complex systems, including the rover, the lander, the landing system and the cruise stage that would take the spacecraft to Mars after being launched aboard a Delta II rocket. Most of the Mars Pathfinder mission was cutting edge - it had never been done before. The landing system was a prime example. This mission would employ a...

Communications Subsystem

The Communications Subsystem comprised two equipment packages the Lunar Communications Relay Unit (LCRU) and the Ground-Commanded Television Assembly (GCTA). The LCRU included the electronic equipment enclosure at the front of the LRV, with an additional umbrella-like S-Band High-Gain Antenna and a Low-Gain Antenna. The LCRU was mounted in receptacles on the forward member of the forward chassis. The High-Gain Antenna and its stalk was mounted in a dedicated receptacle to the left of the LCRU,...

Engineering The 1g Lrv Trainer

The 1-G LRV trainer was built by GM's Delco Electronics Division in Santa Barbara. Of necessity, it had numerous differences required for operation on Earth. Whereas the LRV was designed to operate on the lunar surface having the gravity of Earth, the 1-G trainer had to, in effect, be reverse-engineered to withstand six times its originally designed load and stress parameters, and to take into account other factors. The 1-G trainer had no requirement for deployment with folding forward and rear...

Launch

At 6 00 a.m. on the morning of 16 April 1972, John Young, Charlie Duke and Ken Mattingly received the knock on their door from the flight surgeon in the crew quarters of the Manned Spacecraft Operations building. It was launch day for Apollo 16. The first order of business was the medical examination, which took half-an-hour. Then it was off to the traditional astronaut breakfast. While the prime and backup crews devoured their steak and eggs, Slayton went over the important milestones for the...

Thermal Control Subsystem

The function of the Thermal Control Subsystem (TCS) was to maintain all LRV components within specified temperature ranges during transit to and operation on the Moon. The TCS had to be engineered to function concurrently with the other subsystems of the LRV and to fit within an allocated weight limit of only 4.5 kg (10 lb). The LRV's electrical components could not be allowed to get too hot or too cold. This did not just apply to the LRV's operation on the Moon, but also had to be considered...

Checking Out The First

Once inside the O & C Building, the LRV was carefully inspected in its folded position. It was then removed from its shipping fixture using a specially designed sling hoist, placed on an inspection and test stand and securely bolted in place. The LRV was then unfolded and it underwent another series of inspections. The next week and a half was spent installing the battery simulators and checking out all of the vehicle's electrical systems, including the steering and drive mechanisms. The...

Exploring Hadley Rille

On this last EVA, the two astronauts would drive due west toward Hadley Rille, about two kilometers away. With the delays in trying to extract the core tube and getting them separated, they suspected that the traverse up to the North Complex might be eliminated, but Houston had not yet said so. In February 1971, Scott approached Jerry Schaber and asked him about where, if they had an extra hour on the surface, he would he recommend they go to explore Without hesitation, Schaber said the cluster...

The Usgs Branch Of Astrogeology

In 1960, Eugene Shoemaker, one of the Survey's pre-eminent geologists, founded the Branch of Astrogeology in Menlo Park, California. Two years later, he moved the Branch's headquarters to Flagstaff, Arizona, one of the richest geologic locations in the entire United States. Flagstaff is situated at the foot of the San Francisco Peaks, a 3,850 m high dormant volcano that is surrounded by the extensive San Francisco Volcanic Field. This proved an ideal starting point for field training the...

Lunar Mobility Studies At Marshall Space Flight Center

MSFC had been conducting lunar mobility studies since the early 1960s. The first of these was the Lunar Logistics System LLS , followed by the Mobility Laboratory MOLAB , then the Lunar Scientific Survey Module LSSM and the Mobility Test Article MTA . They were based on the premise of a dual-launch scenario using two Saturn Vs, one to deliver the crew to lunar orbit and the lunar surface and the other to carry all the equipment to sustain and transport the crew while they were there. The LLS,...