Although man has not stood on the surface of the moon for nearly four decades NASA has determined that should Captain Lone Starr return to the Sea of Tranquility he will do so accompanied by a kick-ass state of the art expedition vehicle.
The vehicle weighs 3,000kg on earth – equivalent to 760kg on the moon - and incorporates a 12 wheel mobility chassis with a traction control system. Credit: NASA
NASA’s $38 million lunar rover (LRV) was an invaluable asset during the Apollo 15, 16 and 17 missions because it enabled American astronauts to travel further and conduct research across a much larger surface area of the moon. Whilst the first unpressurized “moon rover” – and the three subsequent derivatives - couldn’t possibly be confused with a Recreational Vehicle (RV) the latest incarnation – the Space Exploration Vehicle or SEV – is so similar to an RV that television presenter James May – Captain Slow of BBC Top Gear fame - described it as a “cosmic camper van.”
Just as in an RV the SEV cabin also doubles as the living quarters. The crew seats can be folded down into beds and there’s also a small bathroom - with a toilet and a water mist shower – connected to the waste control system with a modicum of privacy provided by a roll down curtain. On-board entertainment includes pre-loaded movies & music and a collapsible exercise bike supplies the necessary aerobic exercise (it also charges the onboard battery). There’s currently no kitchen in the lunar rover so meals are prepared via the standard space issue rehydration or freeze-dried packages – freeze-dry technology was another NASA invention. Regrettably there’s no word yet from NASA on whether astronauts will be able to make S’mores but that seems to be a small price to pay for getting to camp out in the world’s most expensive RV.