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 first day for the initial Crew Fit and Function Test was 26 March. Both the prime crew (Commander David Scott and Lunar Module Pilot Jim Irwin) and the backup crew (Commander Richard Gordon and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt) participated in these tests, which lasted for several weeks. There was an engineering fit check of crew equipment, during which the crews removed the antennas, TV camera, photographic equipment and other items from their stowage areas on the LM and loaded them into their proper location on the LRV. This phase revealed only balky equipment straps and the need for more readily accessible

The Lunar Roving Vehicle vastly expanded the exploration of the lunar surface, returned stunning live TV images to Earth and helped the astronauts to clarify the age and composition of the Moon. (NASA)

seatbelts. The astronauts insisted on the changes being made. Change orders were initiated but the paperwork took longer to get approved than it took to make the changes on the rover, requiring as it did an approval signoff from Boeing, MSFC, KSC and the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Then the unsuited crews participated in the installation of crew equipment, LRV wheel steering disengagement and thermal cover operation. This was done with the astronauts wearing only the EVA gloves, not the full suit. An important milestone was the Lunar Module/Lunar Roving Vehicle electromagnetic compatibility test, which checked the communication compatibility of the LM, EMU, LCRU, TV, and MSFN while operating all systems of the LRV. No interference was found to exist. A small silicone oil leak was discovered from the shock absorbers, but this was deemed acceptable for flight.

LRV-1 arrived at Kennedy Space Center on 14 March 1971. Here, it is shown still bolted to its shipping fixture prior to being placed on its inspection and test stand. The flags hanging from various parts of the LRV read "Remove Before Flight." (NASA/ KSC)

Then it came time to test the loading of LRV No. 1 in Quadrant No. 1 of the Lunar Module Falcon. The LRV was completely folded and unbolted from its inspection and test stand. Using the special sling hoist, it was lifted, placed on and secured to the Handling and Installation Tool (HIT). The LRV and HIT were then lifted by the sling hoist, placed upon the Support Stand and then wheeled over to the Lunar Module. The Support Stand was adjusted to a predetermined height and locked in position. Then the LRV/HIT was pivoted into its precise location in Quadrant No. 1 of the LM where the LRV was secured and unbolted from the HIT, and the HIT returned to its original position. This was the first check for any interference between the LRV and the LM at KSC. None were found. The following day, the first deployment test took place, which was also successful.

On 21 April, the first of the mission simulation tests began with Scott and Irwin in their EVA suits. Representatives from Boeing, Grumman, RCA and many other companies involved with the LM or LRV were there, as well as those from KSC and MSFC. The mood was tense. Scott and Irwin entered the test area and walked around the LRV. Scott said, offhandedly, that the LRV was not configured

LRV-1, bolted to its inspection and test stand, undergoes detailed inspection inside the Operations and Checkout Building at Kennedy Space Center. Fender extensions are still in their stowed position. (NASA/KSC)

correctly. The team involved with the test was startled. Then Scott assured all those present that the crew could fix it and promptly produced a raccoon tail from the leg pocket of his suit, which he affixed to the right rear fender of the LRV, accompanied by the sounds of cheering, clapping and laughter. It broke the tension and the tests proceeded smoothly. The mission simulation tests were then repeated with Gordon and Schmitt. Another battery of communications tests also took place, which this time included the communications gear in the astronauts' suits. The simulated mission tests were completed with both the prime and backup crews and additional deployment tests followed, before the Acceptance, Checkout and Test team announced that LRV No. 1 was ready for flight. The batteries were removed, to be installed later on the pad, and the LRV stowed on Falcon on 25 April. Several weeks later, the LM was secured inside the Spacecraft Lunar Module Adapter, the Command and Service Module joined to it, and the assembled spacecraft moved to the Vehicle Assembly Building, where it joined the Saturn V stack.

On 5 May, a press conference was held for the media, who were eager to see what the Lunar Rover was like. No one was more knowledgeable than David Scott and Jim Irwin, so they drove the 1-G trainer out to the press site near the LRV training area. The astronauts spoke to the correspondents about the capabilities of the LRV, what the crew planned to accomplish with it, answered their questions, and even let some of the press members drive it, with a Boeing engineer next to them. The press covering the launch was truly enthusiastic about the LRV and it proved the focus of their articles up to the day of launch.

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