Posts Tagged ‘Lunar Crawler’

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 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.


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.

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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

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  c_Schoenherr_1964 bill b Crawler-x640  imai space attack unti moon crawler art-x640 Imai Space Base 4 Noppin-x640

moon crawler sword annual-1969-x640


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


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


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


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.



More Lunar explorer toys.


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


Illustration for the Tekhnika Molodezhi magazine.


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


From 1971 Japan Space Encyclopedia.

1974Thenext50yearsonthemoon03-x640 1974Thenext50yearsonthemoon04-x640 lunar-surveyor-vehicle-concept-sketch-x640

NASA Lunar Survey Vehicle conceptual illustration, 1988.


Solar-powered rover with mechanical arms.


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


Above: Later prediction of life on the moon c1974

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

Off World Rover illustrations


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


Martian Rover samplers.


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


4-Legged robot space explorer.


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


Legged robot turning a valve.


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


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


Above: Later prediction of life on the moon c1974

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

Off World Walker illustrations


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)

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).


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

Marsohod concept – 1976

Marsohod-x640 sokolov_mars_cherez_peschanuju_reku-x640

Above illustration painted by A. Sokolov.


Source: here.

See othe Lunar Walkers here.

See other early Space Teleoperators here.

See other early Lunar and Space Robots here.

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1959 – Lunar Construction Vehicle from Project HORIZON – U.S. Army (American)


Lunar Construction Vehicle with manipulator arms.


Above image from “The Next 50 Years on the Moon”, 1974.

NASA Study Summary: “Project Horizon, Vol 2, Technical Considerations and Plans”

Here’s a big study from 1959, done by the US Army, right about the time NASA was just becoming a going concern. There was a lot of interservice and interagency rivalry at the time with the AF and Army and Navy vying for the opportunity to dominate the space field– a field which Eisenhower SPECIFICALLY wanted the military excluded from to the extent possible… hence the creation of the civilian NASA in late 1958.

Here’s Project Horizon, the US Army’s plan to build a 12 man moonbase by 1965-66. The plan calls for the use of the ABMA’s Saturn booster (Saturn I) with an upgraded “Saturn II” to follow, using upgraded “H-2” engines (seriously upgraded H-1 engines from Saturn I). Project Horizon would also leverage existing technology by using the Titan I first stage as a second stage, and the Centaur, which was starting development by this time, as a third stage, with plans for an enlarged Centaur for the second and third stages of Saturn II and a smaller Centaur-based fourth stage for both rockets. It also planned to develop in-space refueling (what was later called “Earth Orbit Rendezvous” for the lunar mission, using several Saturn I and Saturn II launches to lift the fuel and equipment to orbit… which this report coming out of ABMA, which employed Von Braun and his team as the stars at the time, it only makes sense that this report closely mirrors Von Braun and Co.’s ideas about how to do a moon mission once Kennedy gave it the nod, though Houbolt proved that Lunar Orbit Rendezvous was the only way to do it within the decade target Kennedy set). The report even talks about the possibility of an 8 F-1 engined super booster that would later become known as NOVA. There’s also information about nuclear upper stages, which would supplement the Saturn I and Saturn II and F-1 superbooster and could end up landing as much as 420,000 lbs of cargo on the moon! There’s also a 2001 ring-like space station to serve as refuelling point for outbound lunar rockets, and several different lunar landers, all of which would use liquid hydrogen descent propulsion coupled with hypergolic ascent propulsion, later hopefully replaced with hydrogen ascent propulsion to improve performance. Even the idea of nuclear landers is thrown around…

A new equatorial launch center was to be built, most likely either on Christmas Island in the mid-Pacific, 2 degrees north of the equator, or on the Brazilian coast, 2 degrees south of the equator. The flightrate of Saturns to support the program was estimated at 5.3 launches PER MONTH! (ambitious, weren’t they!) Also, there were plans for two new space centers, one to do research on the basic problems of the designing the vehicles and their payloads and systems, the other having two facilities designed specifically to address the human factors and astronaut training and simulate the lunar and space environment. Basically this is the genesis of the idea for what became the Marshall Space Flight Center after the ABMA and it’s team and facilities were handed over to NASA from the Army by Eisenhower, to do the research into building the rockets and the systems to support them, and the astronaut training facility and human program research center (along with mission control) which later became the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Source: Luke Strawwalker

See other early Space Teleoperators here.

See other early Lunar and Space Robots here.

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1966 – “Lunar Worm” (Concept) – Dobson & Fulton of Philco (American)

Artists concept of the Lunar Worm, showing a large, crawling Pneumatic bellows shelter, and a smaller transport vehicle with side-by-side circular bellows.


The crawling motion is not gained by pumping fluid (air) in or out of the bellow segments, but uses a mechanical travelling-wave connected to the pneumatic-bellows structure.

The Epoch Times July 20, 2009 

Lunar Worm: The Idea That Never Took Shape
By LEONARDO VINTIÑI – Epoch Times Staff
“For many years Aeronautronic has conducted studies of improved concepts for off-road vehicles based on analyses of mobility in nature.
One of the first things learned in a study of animals is that most of the—in particular the ones which move closer to the ground—tend to be long and slender. The extreme examples of the slenderizing trend are the snakes and various specious of worms. These animals take advantage of their elongated form to spread their weight over a large area, and the resultant low ground pressure allows them to move over very soft ground,”—NASA report, 1966
The Lunar Worm…a truly unique proposal! No, this isn’t about a three-eyed worm from the cartoon “Lunar Jim,” but a space rover project that never materialized, presented by the Aeronutronic division of the Philco Corporation.
Inspired by the undulating movement of certain snakes, the Lunar Worm project seemed promising.
It was presented to NASA in 1966, and it was studied as a possible means of mobility in a low-gravity environment such as the moon.
But the Lunar Worm was not to be; the project was never approved, but its advantages were obvious:
with a contracting movement, a great cylindrical-shaped vehicle would be able to inch its way around in the most difficult terrain, and at a considerable speed (5 mph). This ingenious design could overcome challenging geographical obstacles that would stop more conventional vehicles in its tracks.
Aside from increased mobility offered by this sine-wave shaped travel, the slithering Lunar Worm would also have other advantages over its rivals on wheels. First, the hazardous lunar dust, capable of worming its way into every crevice, moving part, and electronic circuit of a conventional space craft, would be of no concern for the Lunar Worm, whose flexible bellows would be completely covered by a protective membrane.
Furthermore, the internal space inside such a craft would allow for more room. One model proposed a Lunar Worm that could carry scientific equipment and two crew members, and also act as an appropriately pressurized, temporary dwelling. Another slower-moving but larger version described a mobile shelter that could house a group of astronauts for up to a year.
There were also plans for a similar unmanned design for exploratory purposes.
The Lunar Worm was to be an economical design as well. Power requirements for this rib-walker were thought to be much less than other vehicles of a similar size. Still, engineers met with some significant obstacles when designing a large, mechanical worm.
According to the extensive and dedicated reports about the Lunar Worm, one of the major challenges of the proposal was the selection of a flexible membrane to seal the expandable bellows. This material would need to be capable of tolerating the friction, temperatures, and the continual erosion brought on by the environment.
The peristaltic vibrations of its waveform travel made it the perfect vehicle for soft soils, but at the same time it would produce a smooth voyage, without rebounds. Plus, it could be neatly folded up for easy shipping or storage. But despite
its list of advantages—and decidedly whimsical shape—NASA decided not to go with the unusual design; the worm never won.
Although an actual vehicle never materialized, the calculations, diagrams and design ideas of the Lunar Worm still exist for posterity…or future inspiration. See NASA CR-66098 FEASIBILITY STUDY FOR LUNAR WORM PLANETARY ROVING VEHICLE CONCEPT by F. A. Dobson and D. G. Fulton pdf here.

Perhaps the concept is merely waiting for its true calling: to jump out of the pages of a science fiction story.

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