(ORDO NEWS) — If astronauts explore the moon again, they’ll need a way to get around. The special van was tested in the powdery desert pitted with ancient lava flows north of Flagstaff, Arizona.
Astronauts, engineers and scientists are collaborating so their pressurized lunar rover can navigate the moon’s rough, rocky, cratered terrain.
To overcome these obstacles, the lunar rover can rotate, drive sideways, and even climb rocks up to 0.3 meters high, thanks in large part to its sturdy wheels.
Best of all, it has a cozy pressurized cabin, which led the agency to compare it to a recreational vehicle (RV).
People spent two nights cycling and three days traveling all over the lava flow, doing real geological science, communicating with Mission Control in Houston and actually simulating a real lunar mission, said Omar Bekdash, a NASA engineer involved in the project.
Outpost on the Moon
Despite the complex design of the rover, it is quite easy to control using the joystick for basic maneuvering. All wheels steer independently and they also have active suspension so they can be raised and lowered as needed.
This was a deliberate decision by the designers, since the astronauts who will use it will have to ride a bicycle for up to several days in a row. So they added a toilet to make it look even more like a camper.
Preparing for a trip to the moon
The desire to imitate a lunar mission makes the Arizona desert patch an ideal staging area, with its rocky terrain, rugged terrain, and relative lack of contact with the outside world.
The NASA crew will even have to set up a tent city there, which is a perfect analogue of the excellent factor of NASA’s Artemis program, in which a man sets foot on the moon for the first time since 1972: this time the astronauts will have to live on the moon.
Some of this will take place on the planned lunar base, but some of the astronauts will be forced to spend time outside of the rovers themselves.
At the same time, it should be noted that landing a man on the moon will not take place until at least the third mission of the ambitious Artemis III program, which is scheduled to launch in the mid-2020s.
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