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21 January 2009

Lunar rover

Though I missed it live on TV, I understand NASA's new lunar rover made an appearance during the parade. Take a look at those tweels. They were tested here.

NASA's Chariot rover was showing off its 360 degree steering ability for the President and VP. As seen here, the Chariot is in its Small Pressurized Rover configuration. The SPR allows the astronauts to explore the lunar surface without having to wear a full spacesuit.

Here is a link to a video of the Chariot in action.

The Chariot consists of the Mobility chassis and the removable SPR cabin unit. Chariot gives astronauts three options for riding. Without the SPR in suits in rotating turrets is probably the option the system got its name from - Chariot. The next option is to ride without suits inside the SPR - car mode. The final option is a combination of both - the SPR is mounted to the chassis, and astronauts ride in a turret - ideal for transporting large, unstable loads.

The suits are intergated into airlocks called suitports the allow quick ingress/egress with a minimum of air waste.

Chariot masses 1000 kg and has a top speed of 10 kph. It can carry a payload of 3000 kg, which matches the weight of the SPR. It's 4.5 m long, 1.3 m high and has a 4 m wheelbase. The SPR gives Chariot a potential range of 240 km, compared to 10 km for Apollo's rover. In addition, the suitport airlock is rated for 72 hours storm shelter protection from a solar particle event, or solar flare. The lock is lined with 2.5 cm of water ice, one of the best natural radiation shields known.

Download Small Pressurized Rover Fact Sheet (3.7 MB PDF)

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