Minichamps MIN436140360 Apollo 15 Lunar Rover with Two Astronauts (1:43 Scale)
"....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."
- NASA astronaut Harrison Schmitt of Apollo 17
The Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) or lunar rover was a type of surface exploration rover used on the Moon during the Apollo program. It is also known by its popular nickname of moon buggy. Three of the Apollo missions brought LRVs to the Moon.
The original cost-plus-incentive-fee contract to Boeing (with Delco as a major sub-contractor) was for 19M USD and called for delivery of the first LRV by April 1st, 1971, but cost overruns led to a final cost of 38M USD. Four lunar rovers were built, one each for Apollo missions 15, 16, and 17, and one that was used for spare parts after the cancellation of further Apollo missions. There were other LRV models built: a static model to assist with human factors design, an engineering model to design and integrate the subsystems, two 1/6 gravity models for testing the deployment mechanism, a 1-gravity trainer to give the astronauts instruction in the operation of the rover and allow them to practice driving it, a mass model to test the effect of the rover on the Apollo Lunar Module (LM) structure, balance and handling, a vibration test unit to study the LRV's durability and handling of launch stresses, and a qualification test unit to study integration of all LRV subsystems.
LRVs were used for greater surface mobility during the Apollo J-class missions: (Apollo 15, Apollo 16, and Apollo 17). The rover was first used on July 31st, 1971 during the Apollo 15 mission. This greatly expanded the range of the lunar explorers. Previous teams of astronauts were restricted to short walking distances around the landing site due to the bulky space suit equipment required to sustain life in the lunar environment. The rovers had a top speed of about 8 mph (13 km/h).
The LRV was developed in only 17 months and yet performed all its functions on the Moon with no major anomalies. Harrison Schmitt of Apollo 17 said, "....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."
Pictured here is a 1:43 scale replica of the Apollo 15 Lunar Rover. Comes with two astronaut figures. Only 6,671 pieces produced.
Length: 4 inches
Width: 2 inches
Release Date: 2007
Historical Account: "Houston, We Have a Problem" - Despite its rugged construction, the LRVs did experience some minor problems while on mission. The rear fender extension on the Apollo 16 LRV was lost during EVA2 at station 8 when Young bumped into it while going to assist Duke. The dust thrown up from the wheel covered the crew, the console and the communications equipment. High battery temperatures and resulting high power consumption ensued. No repair attempt was mentioned. The fender extension on the Apollo 17 LRV broke when accidentally bumped by Eugene Cernan with a hammer handle. The crew taped the extension back in place, but due to the dusty surfaces, the tape did not adhere and the extension was lost after about one hour of driving, causing the astronauts to be covered with dust. For the second EVA (extra-vehicular activity), a replacement "fender" was made with some EVA maps, duct tape, and a pair of clamps from inside the Lunar Module - nominally intended for the moveable overhead light. This repair was later undone so that the clamps could be brought back inside for launch. The maps were brought back and are now on display at the National Air and Space Museum. The abrasion from the dust is evident on some portions of the makeshift fender.
The color television camera mounted on the front of the LRV could be remotely operated by Mission Control in two axis pans and zoom. This allowed far better television coverage of the EVA than the earlier missions. At the conclusion of the astronauts' stay on the surface the Commander drove the LRV to a position away from the Lunar Module so that the camera could record the ascent stage launch.
NASA's rovers have been abandoned and thus belong to the list of artificial objects on the Moon. Also on that list are the Soviet Union's unmanned rovers named Lunokhod 1 and Lunokhod 2.