1989 – MOSAP (MObile Surface APplication traverse vehicle) – NASA (American)

MOSAP lunar x640 1989   MOSAP (MObile Surface APplication traverse vehicle)   NASA (American)

American manned lunar rover. Study 1989. MOSAP (MObile Surface APplication traverse vehicle) was the pressurized lunar rover that was the key to NASA’s 90-Day-Study moon base concept of 1989. It would greatly extend the range of manned lunar expeditions. MOSAP had a maximum range of 3000 km with a nominal speed of 10 kph.

MOSAP moonpcrv 1989   MOSAP (MObile Surface APplication traverse vehicle)   NASA (American)

MOSAP interior. This vehicle would expand research operations to a range of hundreds of kilometers from the outpost. MOSAP would provide a shirtsleeve environment for missions lasting up to two weeks. The robotic manipulators can be used for collecting soil samples.

MOSAP l hang 1989   MOSAP (MObile Surface APplication traverse vehicle)   NASA (American)

An unpressurized lunar hangar will be used for assembling and maintaining equipment and vehicles such as MOSAP.

The complete system consisted of four modules to allow flexibility in mission planning — a Primary Control Research Vehicle (PCRV), a habitation unit, an auxiliary power cart, and an experiment and sample trailer. Each unit could be individually operated or connected in a train configuration. This vehicle would expand research operations to a range of hundreds of kilometers from the outpost.  The robotic manipulators could be used for collecting soil samples.

Source: here.


See other early Space Teleoperators here.

See other early Lunar and Space Robots here.


1940 onwards – Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Rovers with Manipulators Concepts

Most of the unmanned Lunar and Martian rover concepts were designed to use manipulator arms for sampling rocks and surface material.

a schoenherr crawler type 2 x640 1940 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Rovers with Manipulators Concepts

John Schoenherr’s (1935-2010) fabulous Moon Crawler painting pictured above, which he painted in 1961 for the cover of Analog magazine that year. Source: Project SWORD

b schoenherr crawler type 3 x640 1940 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Rovers with Manipulators Concepts   c Schoenherr 1964 bill b Crawler x640 1940 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Rovers with Manipulators Concepts   imai space attack unti moon crawler art x640 1940 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Rovers with Manipulators Concepts Imai Space Base 4 Noppin x640 1940 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Rovers with Manipulators Concepts

moon crawler sword annual 1969 x640 1940 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Rovers with Manipulators Concepts

Project S.W.O.R.D. (SPACE WORLD ORGANISATION FOR RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT) Moon Crawler 1967.

S.W.O.R.D. images sourced from projectsword.

1970ARocketTriptoTheMoon09 e1410676816197 1940 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Rovers with Manipulators Concepts

Moon tractor from the children’s book “A Rocket Trip to the Moon”, Golden Press 1970. Sourced from dreamsofspace.

life man and space belg Ed Valigursky x640 1940 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Rovers with Manipulators Concepts

Artwork by Ed Valigursky, from the French edition LIFE’s MAN AND SPACE book. Edition date unknown, original English edition 1964.

buergle gelaendefahrtaufdemmond x640 1940 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Rovers with Manipulators Concepts

A depiction of unmanned moon crawlers originally for the Surveyor program. The crawler on the right-hand side is actually the Sperry luna crawler. Above image from Hobby magazine no.3 1962.

  moon scout x640 1940 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Rovers with Manipulators Concepts

columb rover 2 kbom 60s x640 1940 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Rovers with Manipulators Concepts

More Lunar explorer toys.

kolchitsky mars56 x6401 1940 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Rovers with Manipulators Concepts

“The Road to the Moon is Ready” by Nikolay Kolchitsky. Illustration for the Tekhnika Molodezhi magazine, 1956. Source: here.

tm mag z18 x640 1940 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Rovers with Manipulators Concepts

Illustration for the Tekhnika Molodezhi magazine.

1953PremiereCroisiereSurLaLune07 x640 1940 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Rovers with Manipulators Concepts

Illustration from Première Croisière Sur La Lune by Fletcher Pratt, 1952.

1971japanspaceencyclopedia07 x640 1940 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Rovers with Manipulators Concepts

From 1971 Japan Space Encyclopedia.

1974Thenext50yearsonthemoon03 x640 1940 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Rovers with Manipulators Concepts 1974Thenext50yearsonthemoon04 x640 1940 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Rovers with Manipulators Concepts lunar surveyor vehicle concept sketch x640 1940 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Rovers with Manipulators Concepts

NASA Lunar Survey Vehicle conceptual illustration, 1988.

fig13 x640 1940 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Rovers with Manipulators Concepts

Solar-powered rover with mechanical arms.

1965russianmoon8 x640 1940 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Rovers with Manipulators Concepts

Above: Prediction of life on the moon c1965. Illustration from the book Station “Moon” (Stantsiia “Luna”) (1965) .

1974russianmmoon02 x640 1940 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Rovers with Manipulators Concepts

Above: Later prediction of life on the moon c1974

For large images of the above two Russian illustrations, see here.


Off World Rover illustrations

life on jupiter frank r paul 1940 x640 1940 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Rovers with Manipulators Concepts

Illustration by Frank R. Paul, Fantastic Adventure, 1940.

marsrover x640 1940 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Rovers with Manipulators Concepts

Martian Rover samplers.

mars sample return x640 1940 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Rovers with Manipulators Concepts


See othe Lunar Walkers here.

See other early Space Teleoperators here.

See other early Lunar and Space Robots here.


1965 onwards – Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Walker Concepts

space teleoperation concept x640 1965 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Walker Concepts

4-Legged robot space explorer.

fig23 x640 1965 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Walker Concepts

Robot Rescuing an Astronaut on the Lunar Surface. Robot reminiscent of Odex-1.

fig13 x640 1965 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Walker Concepts

Legged robot turning a valve.

  1967firstvacationonthemoon36 french lune x640 1965 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Walker Concepts

Model Lunar walker from the French children’s book “Permieres Vacances Sur La Lune” ["First Vacation on the Moon"], Marc Heimer – 1967.

1965russianmoon8 x640 1965 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Walker Concepts

Above: Prediction of life on the moon c1965. Illustration from the book Station “Moon” (Stantsiia “Luna”) (1965) .

1974russianmmoon02 x640 1965 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Walker Concepts

Above: Later prediction of life on the moon c1974

For large images of the above two Russian illustrations, see here.


Off World Walker illustrations

Leonov Sokolov Titan rover 1965 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Walker Concepts

A. Leonov, A. Sokolov  c1965
“Automatic rover on Titan , Saturn’s moon “. A novel rolling-wheel propulsion whereby the trailing wheel segment pushes down rolling the rover forwards, then retracts and the next segment repeats the action. There are stabilizing skis on the vehicle.

Leonov Sokolov Pluto 67 2 1965 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Walker Concepts

A giant walking capsule or  rover on Pluto. Illustration by A. Leonov and A. Sokolov – “Pluto”. PREPARATION PRECAUTIONS from  a postcard “Wait for us , the stars” , 1967 (Soviet).

TM691204va 0001 x640 1965 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Walker Concepts

Off-world walker. From Soviet magazine dated 1969. Most likely illustrated by A. Leonov and A. Sokolov


Marsohod concept – 1976

Marsohod x640 1965 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Walker Concepts sokolov mars cherez peschanuju reku x640 1965 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Walker Concepts

Above illustration painted by A. Sokolov.

  marsohod 1976 lge x640 1965 onwards   Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Walker Concepts

Source: here.


See othe Lunar Walkers here.

See other early Space Teleoperators here.

See other early Lunar and Space Robots here.


1957 onwards – Miscellaneous Space Tugs with Manipulator Arms (Illustrations)

1969japan3 x640 1957 onwards   Miscellaneous Space Tugs with Manipulator Arms (Illustrations)

1974 Japanese Sci-Fi image of a Space Tug by Shigeru Komatsuzaki. Whilst it looks aggressive and attacking, it appears to be a rescue vehicle.

sokolov leonov 67 x640 1957 onwards   Miscellaneous Space Tugs with Manipulator Arms (Illustrations)

Space Tugs by Sokolov and Leonov c1965.

free space robot 1 1957 onwards   Miscellaneous Space Tugs with Manipulator Arms (Illustrations)

A depiction of an Unmanned Orbital Free-Flyer, similar to the 1982-4 Telepresence Servicer Unit (TSU) concept. Image source: projectrho.com

spaceTug08 don davis 72 icarus 1957 onwards   Miscellaneous Space Tugs with Manipulator Arms (Illustrations)

Detail: Image source: projectrho.com

fsf 73 04 icaris 1957 onwards   Miscellaneous Space Tugs with Manipulator Arms (Illustrations)

Artwork by Don Davis for “Icarus Descending” (1973). In the story the tug is delivering a large nuclear device (helpfully labled “DANGER”) in order to divert the asteroid Icarus from a collision with Terra.

macrossPod 1957 onwards   Miscellaneous Space Tugs with Manipulator Arms (Illustrations)

Space pod from the anime Macross. Image source: projectrho.com

quark spaceship 1957 onwards   Miscellaneous Space Tugs with Manipulator Arms (Illustrations)

United Galaxy Sanitation Patrol cruiser from the TV series Quark, 1977.

robert mcCall 31 1957 onwards   Miscellaneous Space Tugs with Manipulator Arms (Illustrations)

Image by Robert McCall.

SPACE 5 illus david hardy 79 1957 onwards   Miscellaneous Space Tugs with Manipulator Arms (Illustrations)

Space 5, Sci-fi anthology by Richard Davis, 1979.

spaceTug05 1957 onwards   Miscellaneous Space Tugs with Manipulator Arms (Illustrations)

Image similar to 1958 Lockheed Astrotug.

baker p12 ms arms space e1410579447915 1957 onwards   Miscellaneous Space Tugs with Manipulator Arms (Illustrations)

Image from some NASA document.

3245314 circa 1965 illustration of an astronaut in a get 002 1957 onwards   Miscellaneous Space Tugs with Manipulator Arms (Illustrations)

The manipulator arms are just grapplers in this concept. Image from Getty Images.

1974Thenext50yearsonthemoon16 1957 onwards   Miscellaneous Space Tugs with Manipulator Arms (Illustrations)

A Lunar lander, probably in a lunar orbit, using an extendible arm to transfer a disable astronaut in space. Concept by Grumman.

NASA manipulator 0004 x640 1957 onwards   Miscellaneous Space Tugs with Manipulator Arms (Illustrations)

Manned Space pods similar to the 1978 Manned Remote Work Station (MRWS) by Grumman.

1961whatdoesanastronautdo17 x640 1957 onwards   Miscellaneous Space Tugs with Manipulator Arms (Illustrations)

One-man rocket propulsion device with manipulator arms to hold cargo. From the youth nonfiction 1961 book, “What Does An Astronaut Do?” by Robert Wells.

pilgrim tug 1957 onwards   Miscellaneous Space Tugs with Manipulator Arms (Illustrations)

Pilgrim-1 is a model kit. Pictured is the One-Man EVA craft (OMEVAC), also called Astrotug or “Little Toot”. Image source: via projectrho.com

1959spaceflightthecomingexploration9 e1410578547346 1957 onwards   Miscellaneous Space Tugs with Manipulator Arms (Illustrations)

Illustration from the children’s book “Space Flight The Coming Exploration of the Universe”, published by Golden Press, New York, 1959.

1959spaceflightthecomingexploration5 e1410592823564 1957 onwards   Miscellaneous Space Tugs with Manipulator Arms (Illustrations)
1957Lionannual01006 e1410578459464 1957 onwards   Miscellaneous Space Tugs with Manipulator Arms (Illustrations)

1957 Lion Annual cover. Now that’s a Space Robot.


See other early Space Teleoperators here.

See other early Lunar and Space Robots here.


1983 – Beam Assembly Teleoperator (BAT) – University of Maryland (American)

aramis mit ff tele BAT 1983   Beam Assembly Teleoperator (BAT)   University of Maryland (American)

1983 M.I.T. Beam Assembly Teleoperator (BAT)

The SSL was founded in 1976 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Its early studies in space construction techniques eventually led to the EASE (Experimental Assembly of Structures in EVA) flight experiment which flew on Space Shuttle mission STS-61B in late 1985. EASE was designed to evaluate the ability of astronauts to build structures in space.

The success of EASE led to questions about how well robots could construct structures in space. The SSL’s first neutral buoyancy robot, the Beam Assembly Teleoperator (BAT), was built in 1983 specifically to construct the EASE structure. Over BAT’s lifetime, SSL personnel accumulated a large database comparing human and robot performance in space. BAT also demonstrated the ability of robots to assist astronauts during EVA excursions and to service and repair satellites.

batp09 x640 1983   Beam Assembly Teleoperator (BAT)   University of Maryland (American)

BAT HST 1 x640 1983   Beam Assembly Teleoperator (BAT)   University of Maryland (American)    bat2 x640 1983   Beam Assembly Teleoperator (BAT)   University of Maryland (American) bat3 x640 1983   Beam Assembly Teleoperator (BAT)   University of Maryland (American) BAT assembly x640 1983   Beam Assembly Teleoperator (BAT)   University of Maryland (American)

The Beam Assembly Teleoperator (BAT) was designed to assemble the same structure used by the Space Systems Laboratory for the Experimental Assembly of Structures in EVA (EASE) program. EASE involved two pressure-suited subjects repeatedly assembling a six-element tetrahedral truss, and included both neutral buoyancy simulation and a shuttle flight experiment flown on STS 61-B in late 1985. By choosing as a design case to assemble this same structure, direct comparisons could be made between EVA and the telerobotic assembly, as well as correlation to the flight experiment. This structure was designed to be challenging for EVA assembly; no major modifications in the structure were allowed for simplifying the task for robotic assembly. Thus, BAT was designed from the outset to be as capable as EVA for this one specific assembly task, and generically capable of a variety of other EVA tasks as well.

The basic design of BAT was based on a self-contained mobility base, with vision and manipulation systems attached. The mobility base contained the control electronics, on-board power supplies, and the other support systems, as well as eight electrically-powered ducted propellers for underwater motion. Careful attention has to be paid to simulation fidelity in the neutral buoyancy environment, and floatation panels and trim weights were attached to the base unit to adjust the centers of buoyancy and gravity to be coincident, such that the vehicle has no preferred orientation. In the current configuration, BAT is equipped with two pairs of stereo monochrome video cameras, one five degree of freedom dexterous general purpose manipulator, a non-articulated grappling arm for grasping the structure under assembly, and a specialized manipulator for performing the coarse alignment task for the long struts of the truss assembly. This combination of a flexible, generalized manipulator and “pick and place” specialized manipulator for selected tasks proved to be a useful approach to the design of a structural assembly telerobot.

Sourced from here and here.

“The Space Systems Laboratory (SSL) is dedicated to making human beings more productive while working in space. We believe that both humans and robots, working together, are necessary to accomplish this goal. We are currently developing robotic systems capable of assisting astronauts in EVA (spacewalk) tasks, thus making EVA excursions shorter and safer, and in some cases allowing astronauts to perform tasks that would otherwise be impossible. We also study the ways the human body works in space, quantify human abilities in orbit, and design tools and systems to help astronauts work in space.

The SSL was established in 1976 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology by MIT faculty members Renee Miller and J.W. Mar. Its early studies in space construction techniques eventually led to the EASE (Experimental Assembly of Structures in EVA) flight experiment which flew on Space Shuttle mission STS-61B in late 1985. EASE was designed to evaluate the ability of astronauts to build structures in space.

Other early SSL work with Richard Stallman and Marvin Minsky resulted in the Aramis study, an early influential paper on the use of automation in space exploration. In addition, the SSL developed the first neutral buoyancy version of a Manned Manuevering Unit, which allows astronauts to fly untethered around the Space Shuttle. NASA now uses SAFER, a similar device, to ensure the safety of astronauts during EVA excursions.

The Space Systems Lab was founded at MIT in 1976, by faculty members Renee Miller and J.W. Mar. Its early studies in space construction techniques led to the EASE (Experimental Assembly of Structures in EVA) flight experiment which flew on Space Shuttle mission STS-61-B in 1985.
In 1990, lab director Dr. Dave Akin moved the lab to the University of Maryland. The Neutral Buoyancy Research Facility, or NBRF, was completed in 1992. Current projects include the MX suits, simplified spacesuits for use in EVA research; Exo-SPHERES, a prototype satellite for inspection missions, and DYMAFLEX, a light-weight high performance manipulator developed for controls testing in a highly coupled dynamic environment.
The Space Systems Laboratory (SSL) is part of the Aerospace Engineering Department and A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland. A leader in the area of astronautics, the Space Systems Laboratory is centered around the Neutral Buoyancy Research Facility, a 50-foot diameter, 25-foot deep water tank that is used to simulate the microgravity environment of space. The only such facility housed at a university, Maryland’s neutral buoyancy tank is used for undergraduate and graduate research at the Space Systems Lab. Research in Space Systems emphasizes space robotics, human factors, applications of artificial intelligence and the underlying fundamentals of space simulation. There are currently many systems being tested, including Ranger, a four-armed satellite repair robot, and EUCLID, a 6 degree of freedom free-flying underwater camera platform.”


See other early Space Teleoperators here.

See other early Lunar and Space Robots here.