Lunar Rover has suits for two

NASA tests out a new lunar rover concept, the small pressurized rover.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
2 min read

Small Pressurized Rover
The Small Pressurized Rover is built on the Chariot platform. NASA

Earlier this year NASA demonstrated its Chariot Lunar Rover concept, and now the space agency is demonstrating its adoption of modern automotive industrial practices by applying platform engineering to the Chariot, coming up with the Small Pressurized Rover (SPR). Built on the Chariot platform, the SPR is one variation of a lunar vehicle being tested by NASA. It uses a pressurized cabin that can seat two comfortably, or four in an emergency. Astronauts could view the surface of the moon, performing tests and experiments, in T-shirts. Instead of using a bulky airlock, the SPR has two extra vehicular-activity suits attached to sealable ports. An astronaut can enter the suit from inside the SPR, detach it, pick up some moon rocks or help build a lunar colony, then reattach to the SPR and climb back into the cabin.

Using the Chariot as a platform, the SPR would have six drive wheels that can rotate 360 degrees, letting it negotiate the lunar surface. No speed demon, the SPR goes about 6 miles per hour, but has a range of about 150 miles, substantially greater than the original Lunar Rover's 6-mile range. This enhanced range is important for letting astronauts explore a much greater area of the moon.

Small Pressurized Rover
Astronauts enter the EVA suits from inside the SPR. NASA

NASA points out that the biggest danger to astronauts are solar particle events, which can cause radiation damage. The SPR can protect astronauts for up to 72 hours if they are caught outside during one of these events.

We're thinking that if the Chariot is a versatile enough platform for the SPR, it could become the basis for many other lunar vehicles. Construction equipment makes sense for building a lunar station, such as mobile cranes and bulldozers. And those construction workers need to eat, so a lunar taco truck would naturally follow.

(Via Jalopnik)