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.
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.
Yonezawa Moon Explorer Space toy from the 1960’s based on RCA’s “Dumbo” Moon walker.