Machine Design

NASA’s Small; Pressurized Lunar Rover participates in Obama’s inauguration parade

One of the more novel participants in President Obama’s inauguration parade was NASA’s Small, Pressurized Lunar Rover. The vehicle rolls on a dozen Michelin Tweels, a nonpneumatic tire/wheel that can withstand extreme environmental conditions while remaining flexible enough to maintain constant ground contact over loose lunar soils and craters. The Tweel is also relatively low mass but with a high load capacity. It is 3.3 times as efficient as the wheels used on the original Apollo Lunar Rover. Power for the rover comes from two electric motors working through a two-speed transmission. This lets it bulldoze, exerting 4,000 lb of force or cruise at up to 20 kph.

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