Encyclopedia Astronautica
Rover First


American manned lunar rover. Study 1992. Boeing updated their Apollo-era MOLAB pressurized rover concept in 1992. The concept, dubbed "Rover First," was smaller than the traditional pressurized rovers, and did not require a separate landing vehicle.

Among other contractors, a two-person rover called MOLAB (Mobile LABoratory) was studied under a NASA contract to Boeing in the 1960's. Boeing used this analysis as a starting point, with the difference that Rover First would land on its wheels. Boeing reported the Apollo Lunar Module type landing loads were less demanding than those for driving a rover. Therefore a conventional landing stage was avoided by attaching a propulsive descent package to the rover and using its suspension in conjunction with lightweight crushables. Rover First could be operated telerobotically, allowing it to continue to operate between crew sorties. The rover was a cylindrical pressure vessel with two elliptical end bulkheads, with a diameter of 2.6 m and 4.1 m long. It was sized to fit within a Titan IV shroud or the Shuttle cargo bay, with a landed mass limited to 4.3 metric tons. A shuttle hatch was located in the aft bulkhead. To minimize mass, the crew airlock was omitted. As with Apollo, this exposed the crew compartment to ambient conditions during the EVA.

Rover First had six 1.23 m diameter flexible wire mesh wheels, each equipped with an electric motor. These were powered by a 700W solar array/battery system for teleoperation, with shuttle fuel cells providing the 8 kW necessary for crewed missions. Two front wheels controlled steering, using a double wishbone suspension with the rear dual wheels on a trailing arm suspension. The manipulator arm had interchangeable end-effectors available for teleoperated and piloted missions.

Rover First could support a crew of two for 14 days. Nominal speed of was 0.3 km/hr when teleoperated, and 1 km/hr when manned. Maximum range was 80 km, assuming 16 hrs/day driving, with 10 days devoted to travel time.

Crew Size: 2. Electric System: 8.00 average kW.

Gross mass: 4,300 kg (9,400 lb).
Height: 4.10 m (13.40 ft).
Diameter: 2.60 m (8.50 ft).

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Associated Countries
See also
  • Lunar Rovers Lunar rovers were studied in a dizzying variety of sizes and shapes by NASA in the 1960's - including crawlers, trains, hoppers, and even worms. Two rovers designed for manned use actually traveled the lunar surface in the 1970's - the American two-man Lunar Rover, and the Soviet Lunokhod, which traveled the moon in robotic mode but was originally designed as emergency cosmonaut transportation. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • NASA American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA, USA. More...
  • Boeing American manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Boeing Aerospace, Seattle, USA. More...

Bibliography
  • Zakrajsek, James J; McKissock, David B; Woytach, Jeffrey M; Zakrajsek, June F; Oswald, Fred B; McEntire, Kelly J; Hill, Gerald M; Abel, P; Exploration Rover Concepts and Development Challenges, NASA/TM-2005-213555 / AIAA-2005-2525, March 2005.

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