Posts Tagged ‘Lunar Walker’

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

 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.

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

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.


1961 – RCA “Dumbo” Moon Walker – (American)

Life62 Moon Rover RCA Dumbo x640 1961   RCA Dumbo Moon Walker   (American)

In the early ‘60s, as part of the preparations for the Apollo manned moon landing mission, the Jet Propulsion Lab planned a follow-on program to its very successful ‘hard’ landing ‘Ranger’ program, which gave the first close-up views of the moon’s surface. The proposed ‘soft’ lander program was called ‘Surveyor’. An initial concept was for it to disgorge a moon surface-traversing vehicle to conduct a neighborhood survey near its landing position. It was to be commanded by a TV – radio control guidance link. This link was to be relayed to and from the moon via the Surveyor’s earth communication system. A lunar rover competition was opened and by end of 1961 there were responses from at least 10 leading space firms including Space-General Corp., Sperry Rand, and RCA.
When it was determined that the Atlas rockets could not lift  the Surveyor with an added payload of a Lunar Rover, the project was discontinued.

Lunar Robots PSMar62 Dumbo x640 1961   RCA Dumbo Moon Walker   (American)

From RCA's Astro-Electronics Division, Defence Electronics Products.

Walker with four legs moves one of them at a time – up, forward, and down. It shifts its centre of gravity beckward before lifting the front legs (the front being where the cameras are, the antennea at the rear), and forward before raising the hing legs. Slow speed, no drawback, aids in remote control.

RCA Lunar Rovers Dumbo model x640 1961   RCA Dumbo Moon Walker   (American)

RCA Dumbo and Porkie Lunar Rovers x640 1961   RCA Dumbo Moon Walker   (American)

RCA Dumbo Lunar Rover x640 1961   RCA Dumbo Moon Walker   (American)

 


Yonezawa Moon Explorer Space toy from the 1960's based on RCA's "Dumbo" Lunar walker.

MoonwalkerToyp1 x640 1961   RCA Dumbo Moon Walker   (American)


1961 – RCA “Porky the Pig” Moon Walker – (American)

Life62 Moon Rover RCA Porky x640 1961   RCA Porky the Pig Moon Walker   (American)

In the early ‘60s, as part of the preparations for the Apollo manned moon landing mission, the Jet Propulsion Lab planned a follow-on program to its very successful ‘hard’ landing ‘Ranger’ program, which gave the first close-up views of the moon’s surface. The proposed ‘soft’ lander program was called ‘Surveyor’. An initial concept was for it to disgorge a moon surface-traversing vehicle to conduct a neighborhood survey near its landing position. It was to be commanded by a TV – radio control guidance link. This link was to be relayed to and from the moon via the Surveyor’s earth communication system. A lunar rover competition was opened and by end of 1961 there were responses from at least 10 leading space firms including Space-General Corp., Sperry Rand, and RCA.
When it was determined that the Atlas rockets could not lift  the Surveyor with an added payload of a Lunar Rover, the project was discontinued.

RCA Lunar Rovers Porky the pig model x640 1961   RCA Porky the Pig Moon Walker   (American)

From RCA's Astro-Electronics Division, Defence Electronics Products.

RCA Dumbo and Porkie Lunar Rovers x640(1) 1961   RCA Porky the Pig Moon Walker   (American)

"Porky the Pig" (also "Porkie") most likely propelled itself forward or backward by raising the two larger inside legs as one, then following up with raising the other 4 legs and moving in the desired direction.  Steering could be effected by using a twisting motion of the inside legs before they are lowered.


1961 – RCA “Praying Mantis” Moon Walker – (American)

Life62 Moon Rover RCA Praying Mantis x640 1961   RCA Praying Mantis Moon Walker   (American)

In the early ‘60s, as part of the preparations for the Apollo manned moon landing mission, the Jet Propulsion Lab planned a follow-on program to its very successful ‘hard’ landing ‘Ranger’ program, which gave the first close-up views of the moon’s surface. The proposed ‘soft’ lander program was called ‘Surveyor’. An initial concept was for it to disgorge a moon surface-traversing vehicle to conduct a neighborhood survey near its landing position. It was to be commanded by a TV – radio control guidance link. This link was to be relayed to and from the moon via the Surveyor’s earth communication system. A lunar rover competition was opened and by end of 1961 there were responses from at least 10 leading space firms including Space-General Corp., Sperry Rand, and RCA.
When it was determined that the Atlas rockets could not lift  the Surveyor with an added payload of a Lunar Rover, the project was discontinued.

Moon Robots PSMar62 praying mantis x640 1961   RCA Praying Mantis Moon Walker   (American)

From RCA's Astro-Electronics Division, Defence Electronics Products.

A 6-legged walker. What looks like a proboscis is soil-sampling drill; head is counterweight for it; and "feelers" are radio antennas.

RCA Lunar Rovers Praying Mantis model x640 1961   RCA Praying Mantis Moon Walker   (American)

 


1961 – RCA “Centipede” Moon Walker – (American)

RCA Lunar Rovers Caterpillar model x640 1961   RCA Centipede Moon Walker   (American)

In the early ‘60s, as part of the preparations for the Apollo manned moon landing mission, the Jet Propulsion Lab planned a follow-on program to its very successful ‘hard’ landing ‘Ranger’ program, which gave the first close-up views of the moon’s surface. The proposed ‘soft’ lander program was called ‘Surveyor’. An initial concept was for it to disgorge a moon surface-traversing vehicle to conduct a neighborhood survey near its landing position. It was to be commanded by a TV – radio control guidance link. This link was to be relayed to and from the moon via the Surveyor’s earth communication system. A lunar rover competition was opened and by end of 1961 there were responses from at least 10 leading space firms including Space-General Corp., Sperry Rand, and RCA.
When it was determined that the Atlas rockets could not lift  the Surveyor with an added payload of a Lunar Rover, the project was discontinued.

Lunar Robots PSMar62 centipede x640 1961   RCA Centipede Moon Walker   (American)

From RCA's Astro-Electronics Division, Defence Electronics Products.

Centipede-style moon car crawls on 16 legs (which extend sideways like oars) by rotating pairs in sequence. Four legs at a time support it. To make turns, the rows of legs on opposite sides are operated alternately.