Apollo 15 Moon Apollo 15

LRV

Simply amazing and unbelievable, and yet also the "Moon Rover", also known as "Lunar Roving Vehicle" (LRV) of the space mission Apollo 15 had a license plate!!

"Ehi folks, this is better than a Gran Prix!"... these were the words of David Scott, captain of the Apollo 15, while he was driving the rover on the "Appenini Hadley" of the moon with the mate James Irwin on July the 31st 1971. Actually, in spite of what Scott said, the speed was far lower than those reached by the race cars on the earth: the top speed was just 25 Km/h (about 15 mph)!

The Lunar Rover was built by Boeing and by General Motors and it didn't have a steering wheel, but a cloche like that present on the airplanes and the pilot used that to go forth and back (but the astronauts prefered lifting the vehicle and turning it of 180° degrees than going into reverse!) and to make turns (with a variation on the differential, as it happens in the tanks).

Moreover the rover could not have a normal internal combustion engine because there is not oxygen on the moon and it wouldn't work, so an elecrtical engine was used with batteries that let the rover go for about 100 Km at full power. Each wheel had its own engine of about a quarter of horse-power. The tyres were also special: they were not made of rubber with the inner tube like those used on the cars, but there was an elastic ring inside with a tight net of metal wires and the tread was made of titanium.

Due to the low gravity of the moon, about a sixth of that on the earth, the Moon Rover could climb slopes of about thirty percent and could skip holes on the ground of almost 70 cm (about 2 feet): all these things are impossible on the earth!

The Lunar Rovers were used also in the next space missions, Apollo 16 and Apollo 17 in 1972, but I haven't found yet the plates that were issued, if any.

Nowadays there are three Lunar Rover in the world, used at that time to train the astronauts; one of these belongs to the museum of Houston and it's often moved to different countries when there are shows about the space missions.


LRV LRV



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Plates in Rome by Michele Berionne