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ISBN 10: 0-387-30774-5 Springer Berlin Heidelberg New York

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© Copyright, 2007 Praxis Publishing Ltd.

The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use.

Cover design: Jim Wilkie

Copy editing: Mike Shayler

Typesetting: BookEns Ltd, Royston, Herts., UK

Printed in Germany on acid-free paper

I dedicate this book to my daughters Erin and Katie, that they may one day experience the wonder of watching astronauts once again exploring the Moon.

Table of contents

Foreword xiii

Author's preface xvii

Acknowledgements ixx

List of illustrations xxi

From concept to reality 1

Sputnik and Project HORIZON 2

Lunar mobility studies at Marshall Space Flight Center 3

The Lunar Exploration and Science Conferences of 1965 and 1967 9

The Lunar Roving Vehicle wins the mobility debate 11

The Lunar Roving Vehicle Request for Proposals 15

The Boeing-Marshall Space Flight Center collaboration 19

The LRV: a spacecraft without precedent 21

The year of discontent: 1970 23

The Lunar Roving Vehicle subsystems 29

The Mobility Subsystem 29

The LRV's chassis, suspension and traction drives 29

A wheel like no other 33

Crew Station Subsystem 39

Navigation Subsystem 41

Electrical Power Subsystem 43

Thermal Control Subsystem 44

Communications Subsystem 48

Stowage and Deployment Subsystem 51

LRV bound for the Moon with Apollo 15 55

Training for the Moon 57

The USGS Branch of Astrogeology 57

Lunar vehicle testing at the USGS 62

A scratch-built trainer 65

Traverse planning and mission geologic training for the J-Missions 68

Teaching the astronauts to be geologists 71

Engineering the 1-G LRV trainer 75

Training at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida 77

Training at the Manned Spacecraft Center, Houston, Texas 79

Visual simulation training at Marshall Space Flight Center 82

Zero gravity and reduced gravity training 82

Training - an astronaut's way of life 84

To the Hadley Plains 85

Checking out the first LRV 85

The landing site, mission rules and lunar science 89

Meticulous planning 91

LRV closeout 95

Launch day - 26 July 1971 96

Rendezvous with the Moon 98

The standup EVA 100

EVA-1: deploying the Rover and the first traverse 100

Learning to drive on the Moon 102

Returning to the Lunar Module 109

EVA-2: exploring the Apennine Front 112

Station 6 and 6A 114

A spectacular discovery at Station 7 117

Closeout of EVA-2 118

EVA-3: recovering the deep core sample and returning to the Rille 119

The first Lunar Grand Prix 120

Exploring Hadley Rille 121

Closing out EVA-3 123

Return and splashdown 125

Re-entry and return to Earth 127

Mysterious and unknown Descartes 129

Cutbacks in the program 129

Landing site selection, mission planning and pre-launch activities 132

Descartes is selected 134

Launch day 136

Go or no go 138

Down among the rocks 139

EVA-1: to Plum and Buster Craters 141

The largest rock sample ever collected 144

The second Lunar Grand Prix 146

EVA-2: south to Stone Mountain 147

Losing the fender extension 149

Lunar dust problems 152

EVA-3: North Ray Crater, House Rock and Shadow Rock 155

It's further away than you think 157

Leaving Descartes for home 160

A safe return 161

Destiny at Taurus-Littrow 163

Apollo 17 crew selection 165

Apollo 17 landing site selection 166

Mission and EVA traverse planning 168

Pre-launch activities 171

The night launch of Apollo 17 173

Landing at Taurus-Littrow 174

EVA-1: an eventful day 176

A fender crisis averted 178

On to Station 1 182

The lunar dust problem returns 184

Back inside Challenger 187

EVA-2: solving the fender problem and crater exploration 189

Towards the South Massif 191

Unexpected discoveries 193

Closeout of EVA-2 196

EVA-3: The last day on the Moon 199

Towards the North Massif 199

The Sculptured Hills 202

Van Serg Crater 203

The era of lunar exploration draws to a close 205

Returning home 207

The end of the Apollo era 207

The quest for Mars 209

The Viking missions 209

Pathfinder and Sojourner 212

Early rover prototypes 212

Rover designs evolve 214

Pathfinder and Sojourner design 216

On to Mars 218

First wheels on Martian soil 220

Disaster strikes the Mars exploration program 224

Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity 225

Success under pressure 226

MER from the ground up and inside out 228

The EDL system and lander 230

Race to the Cape 232

The Mars Exploration Rovers begin their mission 233

Spirit explores Gusev Crater 235

Opportunity explores Meridiani Planum 239

Mars science laboratory 243

The Mars Science Laboratory Mast Camera (MastCam) 245

Laser-Induced Remote Sensing for Chemistry and Micro-Imaging

(ChemCam) 245

Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) 246

Alpha Particle X-Ray Specrometer (APXS) 246

Chemistry & Mineralogy X-Ray Diffraction/X-Ray Fluorescence

Instrument (CheMin) 246

Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) 247

Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) 247

Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) 247

The MSL Rover configuration 248

Launch vehicle and spacecraft 249

Landing site selection 250

The exploration of space and life on Earth 251

The Vision for Space Exploration 253

Post-Apollo proposals for America's future in space 254

Pioneering the Space Frontier 254

Leadership and America's Future in Space 255

The Space Exploration Initiative 258

America at the Threshold 259

Patience and persistence 262

The Vision for Space Exploration 265

From vision to reality 267

Lunar and Martian rover planning for the VSE 271

Future rover requirements and missions 271

Pressurized or unpressurized rovers? 273

Field testing new technologies 274

The Exploration Systems Architectural Study 277

Space exploration and national leadership 280

Appendix 1: Planetary Rover Missions 283

Appendix 2: The Lunokhods: Russia's Marvelous Robotic Rovers 293

Bibliography 295

Index 301

Commander David R. Scott at Hadley Rille

Foreword

In December 1969, we had successfully completed two lunar landing missions, Apollo 11 and Apollo 12. We had learned how to make a pinpoint landing at a selected site on the Moon; and we had also learned that two astronauts could conduct valuable engineering and scientific experiments on the lunar surface, including using innovative geology tools and collecting telltale rocks and regolith (soil) for detailed analysis on Earth. And we learned that the longer they could stay out on the surface, the more science they could conduct.

NASA decided that it could more than double the duration of the astronaut life support system (backpack) without major design changes. But three major barriers to efficient lunar exploration remained: (1) the distances traveled were limited by how far the crew could walk in their bulky spacesuits and heavy backpacks; (2) the amount of geology equipment (tools and cameras) was limited by what they could carry; and (3) the amount of rocks and soil collected was limited by what they could carry back to the Lunar Module (LM). Further, even though the crew could walk up to 1.5 km away from the LM, their activities could not be monitored by the TV camera posted at the LM (or they would need to carry the TV camera with them, thus reducing the amount of tools outbound and samples returned). Such monitoring by Mission Control teams (both engineering and science) could be very valuable for both safety and science.

However, even with these limitations, major scientific goals could be achieved by landing at a variety of locations on the Moon and attempting to piece together the results from each of the many missions to compile an integrated picture of the Moon. But how many different sites could be explored within the limited number of Apollo missions available? We could extend the duration of each excursion, but within the limited number of missions within the Apollo program could we satisfy our scientific objectives to understand the whole Moon? Comprehensively, with only a few missions, not really.

In December 1969, I was fortunate to be assigned the command of the planned fifth lunar landing mission, Apollo 15, an advanced "H''-type mission (Apollo 11 had been a "G''-type mission). Having been the backup Commander on Apollo 12, I looked forward to the new backpack and our preliminary landing site at Davy Rille.

Jim Irwin and I would be able to double the time and distance from the LM and explore one of the most important features on the Moon, a large rille, or canyon. But we would still be limited to exploring that single geologic feature by what we could carry individually; tools out and samples back.

Four months later, in April 1970, as our training was reaching high gear, the most dramatic and hazardous halt to the program occurred: the near-loss of Apollo 13. After the spectacular rescue of the crew, the questions began to come: Should the program continue? Should we take any more risks? Should we terminate Apollo and be happy with our previous successes? Or should we go on? And if so, how? And how much should we try to do?

At that time, the design of a Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) had commenced, but the program was in serious trouble. It was behind schedule, over budget, and not satisfying its basic requirements. By June 1970, two months after the near-loss of the Apollo 13 crew, termination of the program was being seriously considered.

But then, two months later, in August 1970, NASA made one of its boldest decisions. In the face of the near disaster of Apollo 13, dwindling public support, and a rapidly declining budget, NASA decided to skip the final "H''-type mission; press on with upgrading the total "system" (hardware, software, science, and operations) to the "J" configuration, and launch three full-up "J" missions to the most significant scientific sites on the Moon. This upgrade from "H" to "J" included, in particular, a full commitment to the LRV. This meant significantly more exploration capability, especially the capability to range to several different geologic areas from the Lunar Module; significantly more scientific equipment and experiments; and quite importantly, a mobile TV camera to view and record the distant activities of the crew. As a result, using a rover to explore multiple geologic areas at one landing site became almost equivalent to exploring multiple landing sites without a rover.

To go beyond the Apollo 11 "G" mission demonstrated considerable courage and confidence, especially after achieving the political objective of "landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth.'' But to advance beyond "H" into even one "J" mission (much less three J missions), fully seven months before the recovery from Apollo 13 and the launch of the Apollo 14 "H" mission, required a very bold and aggressive decision. But this commitment to the extended scientific exploration "J" missions was surely one of the most rewarding decisions of the Apollo Program. It would have been a lot easier, safer, and cheaper to finish the program with the final two "H" missions as scheduled (for if one of the final missions were to be a failure, the Program would surely end, and "Apollo" would forever have been considered a "failure"). This major decision was as fortunate for the overall results and success of Apollo as it was for the inclusion of a Lunar Roving Vehicle - that one final element in the overall configuration of a complete "system" for human planetary exploration. For the future of Apollo and for human planetary exploration in general, the bosses truly made the "right" decision!

For our mission on Apollo 15 (as well as 16 and 17), the shift to a "J" mission and the inclusion of the LRV meant that we would cover seven times the distance covered on "H" missions. We would travel almost four times the distance from the LM, we would be able to carry many more tools, and we could collect and return twice the amount of surface rocks and soil. Further, because of the mobility of the LRV, we would be able to explore three different geological areas at our landing site, from a rille, to large craters, to the mountains; a true boon to the scientific exploration and comprehensive understanding of the whole Moon.

This book thoroughly describes one of the major the results of that bold decision, for both engineering and science. However, the real significance of this story may very well be its value to future planetary explorers, including robotic explorers, and even "virtual" explorers. When these future explorers look back, they will surely ask: what did we learn from Apollo? How does it apply to the future? When will such an adventure happen again?

When will we go again - to explore first-hand the Moon, Mars, or another planet? Or perhaps more specifically, when will humans ever again walk, and rove, on another planet? One could argue that even the current status of "robotic technology" precludes the need to risk the life and cost of humans in situ exploring the surface of an extra-terrestrial body. The remarkable advances in computer science and robotics, including software that produces human-like capabilities, seem to indicate that it will not be long before many will say that artificially-intelligent robots of the future should replace the artificially-robotic humans of the past (picture those somewhat-intelligent Apollo beings of the mid-twentieth century in those old stiff, bulky, heavy pressure suits!). But will robots ever be able to experience the high adventure of exploring the unknown sights of a new frontier? Not really.

The Lunar Roving Vehicle was the final element in the fundamental configuration for human planetary exploration - a planetary lander, a life support system, a surface rover, and a recovery spacecraft for return to Earth. All future human exploration "systems" will surely include these four basic elements, in one form or another. The Apollo LRV was the first of the manned surface rovers in this enduring configuration. The following chapters tell its story: for history, for research, and as the basis for defining future planetary expeditions, wherever they may go. And wherever they may go, a planetary rover will most likely be along, a planetary rover basically the same as the one described in this exceptional book.

David R. Scott Los Angeles June 2006

Author's Preface

This book began with the goal of writing about the design, development, testing and building of the Lunar Roving Vehicle, and the experiences of the astronauts who used the LRV during Apollo 15, 16 and 17. When quoting Apollo astronauts David Scott, John Young, Charlie Duke, Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt from my interviews with them, I refer to my interview to distinguish from quoted material from the Apollo mission transcripts or other taped or written material. I also made this distinction with other individuals I interviewed for this book.

During peer reviews of the book proposal, it was suggested I tie in the tremendous successes of the Martian rovers Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity as part of the book subject matter. This made sense, but it became clear I would not be able to devote as much space or detail to these rovers as I had for the Lunar Roving Vehicle. I have devoted a chapter to these amazing machines and the Mars Science Laboratory as an overview, since the Mars Pathfinder mission and the Mars Exploration Rovers have already been the subjects of separate books by the JPL engineers and scientists directly involved with them. These are listed in the bibliography.

When the Vision for Space Exploration (VSE) was announced by President George W. Bush in January 2004 at NASA headquarters, the space agency made a dramatic shift in its human space exploration plans and goals, proposing a return to the Moon and eventual crewed missions to Mars. The U.S. Congress supported this new initiative, if modestly. It appeared that the United States, along with its international partners, would indeed return to the Moon with the distant goal of human missions to Mars. It was obvious that future lunar crews would need rovers. The VSE is a reality and not a grandiose proposal. I wanted to explain the numerous previous attempts at proposing America's return to the Moon, and beyond, why those space exploration proposals failed, why the VSE succeeded, and what the future holds for both manned and robotic rovers.

There were numerous suggestions to devote a chapter to the Soviet Lunokhod rover program. The more I looked into it, the more I realized I would not have the time to conduct the necessary research or interviews. Fortunately, Ron Creel, who has helped me so much with this book, agreed to make a written contribution. Ron was a thermal control engineer on the Lunar Roving Vehicle, and is very knowledgeable about the Lunokhod rovers, having met and shared information with the engineers in Russia who worked on the program. His summary of the Lunokhods and the challenges they conquered appears in the Appendix.

It is my hope this book will add to the body of knowledge regarding lunar and planetary rovers. The lessons of history are a priceless resource that can be used in designing the rovers of the future.

Anthony Young May 2006

Acknowledgements

This book had its genesis in an article I wrote for Automobile Quarterly, titled LRV: Apollo's Wheels on the Moon and published in Vol. 43, No. 4 (Fourth Quarter, 2003). I want to thank Managing Editor Tracy Powell for giving me the green light to write it. I uncovered so much information, I realized there was a possible book.

I want to thank the Apollo astronauts who drove and rode the Lunar Roving Vehicle for the interviews for that article and this book. Much of what they told me could not fit into the article, but now appears here. Fellow Praxis author David Harland arranged the interview with David R. Scott, Commander of Apollo 15. David Scott afforded me many new insights into the mission planning, training and the wonders of the Hadley Apennine region that he explored. Apollo 16 Commander Capt. John Young managed to find time in his still busy schedule at the Manned Spacecraft Center to recall his experiences on the Descartes Highlands with the rover, and what America should do when it returns to the Moon. His crewmate, Charles "Charlie" Duke spoke to me at length about their heart-pounding landing, the discoveries at Descartes in general and some of the quirks of trying to ride on the rover in /g -G. Capt. Eugene Cernan, certainly one of the busiest of the Apollo astronauts, carved out a precious slot of time to regale me with his massif-dodging landing at Taurus-Littrow and how the rover vastly expanded their capability to explore the Moon. No less busy was Dr. Harrison H. Schmitt, who was Capt. Cernan's Lunar Module Pilot on Apollo 17. Dr. Schmitt reviewed Chapter 3 on training. Jim Irwin, Lunar Module Pilot on Apollo 15, passed away in 1991, but his book To Rule the Night provided his viewpoint on the wondrous experience Apollo 15 was for him.

I began my research for this book at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Anne Coleman, in charge of the Archives & Special Collections at the M. Louis Salmon Library at the university, made available to me the entire collected papers of Saverio "Sonny" Morea, who was manager of the Lunar Roving Vehicle program at the Marshall Space Flight Center. Those papers, collected in nearly twenty binders, were meticulously organized by Ms. Coleman's able archive assistant, Nikki, who also established the online Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) Database. This information was priceless in establishing the chronological events of the LRV program. Mike

Wright, historian at the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, helped me to gather information and photos.

I want to thank Sonny Morea for my original interview with him in 2003 and his willingness to follow up with information when the book project started. Ronald A. Creel, who was a key principal thermal control engineer on the LRV, not only gave me a wealth of information on the LRV, he scrupulously proofed every chapter for accuracy. His help was invaluable. I would also like to thank Otha "Skeet" Vaughn for giving me the details of the lunar soil studies and LRV wheel tests he was involved in. Jim Sisson reviewed my chapters on the Apollo "J" missions and gave me some personal insights that appear in the book. I was most fortunate to speak with Sam Romano who was a pivotal individual in the LRV's history and development. One of Romano's senior engineers, Ferenc Pavlics, spoke to me at length about the LRV development work at General Motors in California. Eugene Cowart was Boeing's LRV program chief engineer in Huntsville and he gave me his insights and some rare literature. Sam Russell and Ed Fendell spoke to me about the design and operation of the Ground-Commanded Television Assembly. Don McMillan is credited with the 3-D computer model of the LRV you see in this book. Jeff Foust, editor of The Space Review website, was a referee of my book proposal, as were several others.

Geologists Dr. Gordon Swann, Dr. William Muehlberger and Dr. Gerald "Jerry" Schaber were most generous with their time to tell me of their work with the astronauts in their training and mission planning for Apollo 15, 16 and 17. Jerry Schaber in particular offered me his comprehensive document on USGS history during the Apollo program, which you can learn more about in the Bibliography.

For Chapter 7, I would like to thank Andrew Mishkin at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California for his input and proofing of the chapter. Frank Delgado at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas offered insight on the next generation of rover technologies as part of the new Vision for Space Exploration.

Eric Jones is known the world over as the father of the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal. Eric and his contributors have made this online resource the finest of its kind. Eric was most helpful to answer any question I might have, and the voice transcripts of Apollo 15, 16 and 17 were taken from the ALSJ.

Finally, I would like to thank Dr. Hans Koelsch at Springer for first considering my book proposal and then sending it on to Clive Horwood at Praxis Publishing Ltd. in England. It has been gratifying to work with Mr. Horwood to produce the book you hold in your hands.

List of Illustrations

Frontispiece

Foreword

David R. Scott at Hadley Rille xii

From Concept to Reality

Dr. Wernher von Braun xxvi

Grumman Mobility Test Article 4

Bendix Mobility Test Article 6

Von Braun on Bendix MTA 8

General Motors Mobility Test Article 10

Grumman pressurized rover 12

Putty Mills and Harrison Schmitt 14

Early GM wheel test fixture 17

GM wheel durability test fixture 18

GM rover model 20

GM rover test mule 22

Morea with crew station mockup 25

Morea with GM text fixture 26

The Lunar Roving Vehicle Subsystems

LRV Control and Display Console 30

Chassis structural test 31

Traction drive mechanism 32

LRV wheel fabrication 34

Assembled LRV wheels 36

Qualification Unit Control and Display Console 38

LRV diagram 40

Aft Pallet Assembly 42

LRV Qualification Test Unit 45

Astronauts with Qualification Test Unit 47

Bob Parker and Data Acquisition Camera 49

LRV deployment system 52

Compatibility testing of the Qual Unit 54

Training for the Moon

Eugene Shoemaker 58

Mobile Geologic Laboratory 59

USGS Explorer 61

Charlie Duke and John Young with Explorer 63

USGS Geologic Rover (Grover) 64

Jim Irwin and David Scott on Grover 66

Jim Irwin and David Scott at Rio Grande Gorge 67

David Scott and Jim Irwin on traverse simulator 69

Ference Pavlics, Dr. Bekker and Sam Romano with 1-G trainer 70

Jim Irwin and David Scott during 1-G trainer briefing 71

Apollo 15 backup crew with 1-G trainer 73

Jim Irwin and David Scott training indoors 74

David Scott training with core sample drill 76

John Young and Charlie Duke with crew station mockup 77

John Young and Charlie Duke training with Grover 78

Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt with deployment trainer 80

Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt on Grover 81

Harrison Schmitt during reduced gravity training 83

Color Section 1

Deployment tests of the LRV flight units

LRV-1 on the Handling and Installation Tool

Details of the folded aft chassis

Internal construction of the wheel bump stop

The LRV traction drive and suspension

Jim Irwin and Dave Scott training on Grover

Geologist Lee Silver training the Apollo 16 crews

Charlie Duke and John Young training with the 1-G rover

John Young drives the 1-G trainer

Charlie Duke with the 1-G trainer

Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt riding in the 1-G trainer

John Young communicates with the Apollo 17 crew during training

LRV-1 undergoing testing

Fit checks for LRV-1 and its Lunar Module

Dave Scott observes a LRV deployment test

LRV-1 stowed aboard Lunar Module Falcon

Dave Scott and Jim Irwin explain the Rover to the press

The crew of Apollo 15

Apollo 15 launch on 26 July 1971

Wernher von Braun watches the launch of Apollo 15

Jim Irwin works near LRV-1 on the first Apollo 15 EVA Jim Irwin saluting the American flag LRV-1 at the Station 6A stop

Lunar Module Falcon with one landing leg in a shallow depression LRV-1 parked ready to observe the lunar liftoff The Apollo 15 crew aboard USS Okinawa 3D computer model of the LRV

To the Hadley Plains

Commander David Scott on LRV 86

LRV-1 on delivery pallet at Kennedy Space Center 87

Checking out LRV-1 88

David Scott and Jim Irwin inspect LRV-1 90

Scott and Irwin during Crew Fit and Function Test 92

Mating LRV-1 to Handling and Installation Tool 93

Fit check of LRV-1 and LM Falcon 95

David Scott and rover 98

LRV-1 identification tag 101

Ed Fendell at console 104

Sample No. 15556 106

Apollo 15 traverse illustration 109

Vesicular boulder 113

David Scott at Station 6 115

The Genesis rock 120

David Scott at Station 9 122

Memorials left on the Moon 124

Scott's last photo on lunar surface 127

Mysterious and Unknown Descartes

John Young's jump salute 130

Charlie Duke and John Young review maps and photos 132

John Young takes the 1-G trainer for a spin 133

Mission traverse simulation at KSC 135

Apollo 16 Saturn V on the pad 137

John Young at Plum Crater 140

Charlie Duke at Station 4 142

John Young at Station 4 145

John Young at back of rover 147

John Young adjusts high gain antenna 149

Missing fender extention 151

Battery covers open 152

Resting place for LRV-2 154

Apollo 16 traverse map 156

Sample from Apollo 16 158

John Young with lunar samples 161

Destiny at Taurus-Littrow

Preparing Challenger 164

LRV-3 arrives at KSC 165

Taurus-Littrow landing site 168

Schmitt and Cernan during vehicle test 169

The last manned Apollo Saturn V 172

Harrison Schmitt with lunar rake 175

Solution for the broken fender 177

Problem solved 179

Start of EVA-2 181

Turning Point Rock 183

Schmitt at Station 6 185

Majestic vista 188

The LRV at Station 6 190

Schmitt's steep climb 192

Apollo 17 traverse map 195

Eugene Cernan at Station 9 198

Eugene Cernan with the South Massif 200

Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Facility video station 202

Mission accomplished for Cernan and Schmitt 204

LRV-3 at rest 206

Color Section 2

The Apollo 16 crew

The Saturn V heads for the launch pad

The Apollo 16 plaque

The LM and LRV at the start of EVA-2 on Apollo 16

Aligning the High-Gain Antenna

The Second Lunar Grand Prix

View of the Descartes Highlands

John Young taking a sample at Station 10

The lunar dust problem

The Apollo 17 crew in the 1-G trainer

Eugene Cernan tests LRV-3 after landing on the Moon

Harrison Schmitt at work near the LRV

The pressurized suit makes things tricky

Harrison Schmitt at Station 6

Eugene Cernan holding the US flag

Harrison Schmitt near the LRV at the end of EVA-3

Apollo geologists reunited at the new Eugene Shoemaker Center in 2002

More of the USGS geologists, including Harrison Schmitt

Final preparations for Mars Rover Spirit

The highly successful Mars Exploration Rover

Spirit photographs its lander

Composite of the "Longhorn" outcrop on Mars

Opportunity inside Endurance Crater

Panorama on Husband Hill

Self-portrait of Spirit after two years on Mars

The "Payson" outcrop of Erebus Crater

Spirit stirs up an interesting find

The Mars Scientific Laboratory

Proposal for a mullti-function lunar facility

Testing the SCOUT rover

Concepts for the Vision for Space Exploration

Future crewed LRVs may also have robotic assistants

The Quest for Mars

Mars Pathfinder spacecraft 209

Jet Propulsion Laboratory 210

Rocky III 215

Sojourner in the lab 216

Pathfinder airbag system 219

Closing up Pathfinder 221

Sojourner meets Martian boulder 223

The Twin Peaks of Ares Vallis 224

Martian rover size comparison 227

MER testbed egress test 229

Opportunity looks at its lander 232

Spirit's Instrument Deployment Device 234

Rock abrasion tool sample 235

View of Earth from Mars 237

Spirit climbs Columbia Hills 238

The dark dunes of Erebus crater 241

Endurance crater panorama 242

Illustration of MER components 244

Exploded view of Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft 248

Rover wheels: small, medium and large 250

The Vision for Space Exploration

Pioneering the Space Frontier cover 252

Proposed pressurized LRV 257

America at the Threshold cover 261

Vision for Space Exploration Presidential Commission 265

SCOUT vehicle 268

Solar powered tractor 275

Dr. Dean Eppler with Matilda 278

Dr. Wernher von Braun became the first director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama in I960. He oversaw such massive engineering programs as the development of the Saturn I and Saturn V launch vehicles, as well as lunar vehicle studies from the Mobility Test Articles (MTA) to the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV). Here, von Braun points out the zoom lens of the TV camera to be used on the LRV. (NASA/MSFC)

From concept to reality

In the midst of Project Gemini in 1965, Dr. Wernher von Braun, the first Director of the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), arranged an impromptu meeting with some of the astronauts. Most of them had yet to fly into space. The astronauts were among the third group selected by NASA in October of 1963 for Gemini and the upcoming Apollo program. One of the astronauts sitting across from Dr. von Braun was Capt. Eugene Cernan, who was training for his upcoming Gemini IX flight the following year. It was just an informal meeting, but von Braun knew some of the men he was looking at would one day walk on the Moon. The famous rocket scientist had even bigger plans for the astronauts who would eventually realize the long-held dream of traveling to and landing on the Moon. It was at this meeting that the astronauts learned what Dr. von Braun really had in mind.

"There were six to eight of us at this table," Cernan recalled in an interview with this author. "The thing I remember specifically was von Braun saying, 'Don't you worry about getting to the Moon. I will get you there. It's what you do when you get there that's important.' And that's when he said, 'You will probably be driving a car on the Moon.' That was almost as far-fetched then as going to the Moon itself. At that time, people were looking at rocket boots and other means of getting around in /6 gravity. We're talking about a bunch of men in the program at that point in time who had never even flown. Going to the Moon was still a long way off, and he was talking about driving cars a quarter of a million miles away.''

Making such confident predictions was something von Braun was quite at home doing. He had been doing it for many years. Von Braun needs no introduction, but what is perhaps little known was his consummate skill in harnessing the mass media to promote his vision of space exploration. Whether it was the series of articles for Life and Collier's magazines during the 1950s, or the Walt Disney TV specials that captivated millions of Americans in their living rooms with the real possibility of exploring first the Moon and then the solar system, von Braun proved to be a most articulate spokesman. Yet he spoke in a language the average man, woman and child could understand. Von Braun was a visionary, but a visionary with a plan backed up by hard science. He realized he was at the threshold of technology that could truly make it possible, and he used every opportunity to speak not only of the romance of space exploration, but also of its benefits to mankind. He knew that if he could harness the public's imagination and support for American efforts in space, Washington would loosen the purse strings.

Von Braun knew that once man reached the Moon, he would eventually need some means of traveling about on its surface. The idea was not new. Jerszy Zulawski depicted a rover in his science fiction novel, A Srebyym Globie, published in 1901. In 1915, American writer Hugo Gernsback described a Lunar Rover in Baron Munchausen's New Scientific Adventures, though this was a sphere with a circumferential track. Numerous other rover ideas appeared in the magazine and book press during the 1920s and 1930s, but perhaps the most prophetic Lunar Rover description to appear in print came from Arthur C. Clarke. In 1951 he published The Exploration of Space, in which he wrote: "Pressurized vehicles with large balloon tyres would also be employed for much of the same duties that they fulfill on Earth. Their motors would be electric, operated by storage batteries, or else turbines, driven by reacting rocket fuels, either directly as in a gas turbine or indirectly through the use of some intermediate fluid.'' Von Braun, acting as a contributor to the book The Conquest of the Moon published in 1953, described a tracked lunar vehicle powered by turbines. However, it would take a geopolitical event to move the hope of even getting to the Moon from a dream to eventual reality. When the Russians launched the first satellite in 1957, von Braun saw the event not as a threat, but an opportunity.

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