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NASA’s Ultimate Off Road Truck – For the Moon

Article written: 27 Feb , 2008
Updated: 26 Dec , 2015
by

It won’t just be astronauts returning to the Moon in the next decade. They’re also going to be bringing their equipment, including shelters and vehicles. And NASA’s working on the ultimate off-road vehicle. It’s a six-wheel drive lunar truck reminiscent of the Mars rovers, but designed to carry astronauts and their equipment.

Oh, and you can have any colour you like, as long as it’s gold.

When designing a new vehicle for human planetary exploration, the NASA engineers threw out all their old assumptions and started from a clean slate.

“To be honest with you, it was scary when we started,” said Lucien Junkin, a Johnson robotics engineer and the design lead for the prototype rover. “They tasked us last October to build the next generation rover and challenge the conventional wisdom. The idea is that, in the future, NASA can put this side-by-side with alternate designs and start to pick their features.”

Right away, they challenged the concept that a vehicle should have 4 wheels. The Mars rovers, still going after all these years have demonstrated that 6 wheels, capable of independent steering, work well in a rough environment. And if one wheel goes, you can still get by just fine with the other 5.

With the ability to travel in any direction, the lunar truck will let the astronauts drive down into very steep craters. It can crawl down sideways, maintaining the lowest centre of gravity. It can turn around in any direction to maneuver around rocks and smaller craters.

On the Apollo rover, the astronauts couldn’t go in reverse because they couldn’t see where they were going. They couldn’t turn around or look over their shoulders like you would in a car. But with the lunar truck, the astronaut can turn completely around on the vehicle – backwards is the new forwards.

The purpose of the lunar truck is to serve as a technology demonstration. Some, all, or none of its developments will actually find their way to the final lunar surface. But until then, some engineers are going to have off-road fun, working on the unique challenges of driving on the Moon.

If you’d like to see some videos of the rover in action, check out this site.

Original Source: NASA News Release


9 Responses

  1. john says

    I like this truck, I could do with something that versatile in my job

  2. Calvin L. says

    independent steering… very complex, yet a plethora of possibilities…

  3. Neila says

    “You can have any colour you like — as long as it’s black.”

    ~Henry Ford

  4. Derek says

    what’s the zero to sixty on that baby

  5. marcellus says

    Chill out Pete. Go iron your panty hose or something. I can’t wait to see this thing in action on the Lunar surface.

  6. Neila says

    We don’t have to shut up here. And we’re geeks, not nerds. {geek = self-actualised nerd.}

    heh heh

  7. Essel says

    Inflatable Tyres to be used in Moon?

  8. Otha H Vaughan Jr says

    NASA MSFC and its cotractors In the Apolloa days had a six wheel concept but the main problrm was weight to get it to the moon. 4 wheels was very adequate for the job as shown in Apollo 15,16, and 17. The concept was the LSSM (a 6 wheeled vehicle concept )was studied in detail and GM built a large vehicle for MSFC and we did considerable testing of the 6 wheeled concept in the Arny’s Yuma Arizona Test area.

  9. Kevin Koski says

    yes exploration ar its finest,the rovers have proved many things and alot of good science

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