Lunar Rover What was its power source on the moon? How was it assembled?

By | March 24, 2008
A visitor to my moon landing page sends the following. Click thumbnails to enlarge pictures.
THEY LANDED FIVE TIMES IN SIX YEARS AND IN 40 YEARS LATER THEY STILL DIDN’T GO BACK. THEY WOULD HAVE BUILD THE SPACE STATION ON THE MOON IF THEY WOULD HAVE REALLY LANDED. THE MOON ROVER WAS A JOKE LOOK AT THOSE TWO PICTURES + HOW IN THE WORLD COULD THEY HAVE ASSEMBLED SUCH A BIG 1952 JEEP AND DROVE IT SO EASILY WITHOUT POWER SOURCE.
jeepframe.jpg lunarrover.jpg

Wikipedia says this:

The Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle was an electric vehicle designed to operate in the low-gravity vacuum of the Moon and to be capable of traversing the lunar surface, allowing the Apollo astronauts to extend the range of their surface extravehicular activities. … Each wheel had its own electric drive, a DC series wound 0.25 hp (200 W) motor capable of 10,000 rpm, attached to the wheel via an 80:1 harmonic drive, and a mechanical brake unit. Maneuvering capability was provided through the use of front and rear steering motors. Each series wound DC steering motor was capable of 0.1 hp (100 W). Both sets of wheels would turn in opposite directions, giving a steering radius of 10 feet (3 m), or could be decoupled so only one set would be used for steering. They could also free-wheel in case of drive failure. Power was provided by two 36-volt silver-zinc potassium hydroxide non-rechargeable batteries with a capacity of 121 A·h. These were used to power the drive and steering motors and also a 36 volt utility outlet mounted on front of the LRV to power the communications relay unit or the TV camera.

Considerable money was spent on the moon buggies.

Four were made – at a total cost of $38 million. Developed in just 17 months, the 3.1-metre vehicle was powered by two 36-volt silver-zinc potassium hydroxide batteries, enabling a top speed of 8mph. – carsmoneycantbuy

How do silver-zinc batteries compare to lithium ion batteries?

Silver-zinc chemistry has three significant advantages over lithium ion, according to Dueber: It’s inherently safer because it lacks the volatile cathode makeup that leads to a thermal runaway, it’s very green since both silver and zinc are non-toxic as well as recyclable, and, perhaps most importantly, it packs 40% more energy into a battery pack than lithium ion can. Silver-zinc has a long history…. It was used by the military and aerospace where programs could afford to pay for the higher-priced silver in exchange for increased energy density. – edn

25 thoughts on “Lunar Rover What was its power source on the moon? How was it assembled?

  1. Cool jay

    What utter rubbish just read upon the batteries the temperatures on the moon is from -233 deg c to +123 deg c.
    How could the above batteries last and work at these temperatures ask NASA for the battery blue prints !!!! umm They are lost and ask them for any original Moon rover plans all lost.
    One big big cover up.
    Even the russians used a heater on their moon rover the lunokhod 2 and used recharagble batts!!!!
    Umm something a mii here Nasa also not one photo ofthe Moon rover being deployed and no tyre tracks that lead to and from the lander!!! umm it was lifted in to position with a crane then.

    1. Xeno Post author

      Here is an image you have probably not seen… the lunar rover folded up:

      The wheels consisted of a spun aluminum hub and an 81.8 cm diameter, 23 cm wide tire made of zinc coated woven 0.083 cm diameter steel strands attached to the rim and discs of formed aluminum. Titanium chevrons covered 50% of the contact area to provide traction. Inside the tire was a 64.8 cm diameter bump stop frame to protect the hub. Dust guards were mounted above the wheels. Each wheel had its own electric drive, a DC series wound 0.25 hp motor capable of 10,000 rpm, attached to the wheel via an 80:1 harmonic drive, and a mechanical brake unit. Manuevering capability was provided through the use of front and rear steering motors. Each series wound DC steering motor was capable of 0.1 hp. Both sets of wheels would turn in opposite directions, giving a steering radius of 3.1 meters, or could be decoupled so only one set would be used for steering. Power was provided by two 36-volt silver-zinc potassium hydroxide non-rechargeable batteries with a capacity of 121 amp-hr. These were used to power the drive and steering motors and also a 36 volt utility outlet mounted on front of the LRV to power the communications relay unit or the TV camera. Passive thermal controls kept the batteries within an optimal temperature range. –

      1. Frank

        NASA video footage from their archive shows that the moon buggy had a muffler and sputtered around the moon’s surface. That video disproves the false claims that they were battery operated and also indicates that the NASA footage was filmed on Earth and not on the moon.

    2. Alf Beharie

      Cool Jay, there is only one short low-res video sequence showing an Astronaut apparently deploying the LRV from the LM…Which is obviously faked because in reality the LRV had to be folded in half to make it small enough to be stored in a special compartment, about 5 feet long, on the side of the LM, yet on the video its shown being deployed with it already unfolded, when its about 8 feet long…Way too long to fit inside the LM!
      And whoever wrote the specs for the LRV above is obviously clueless…0.25 HP is not 200 Watts, its only 186.5 Watts. And 0.1 HP is not 100 Watts its only 74.6 Watts. That means the LRV had a total of exactly 746 Watts (1 HP) (consuming 20.72 Amps/second) to drive it along and a total of 298.4 Watts (0.4 HP) (consuming 8.28 Amps/second) to work the streering. The two Silver-Zinc batteries had a total capacity of 242 Ah. Assuming they didn’t use the steering at all that would give them about 11.6 hours before the batteries ran flat, assuming of course they could work at all at the temperatures they would have experienced on the Moon! At the 8mph top speed that would give the LRV a range of over 90 miles. Now factor in a lot of use of the steering and power used to drive the primitive TV camera and the other equipment on board, plus going up inclines etc, all this must have seriously increased the power consumption as the furthest any LRV went was a total of 22.3 miles. Mind you the film set they were on was only about 800 meters square so they didn’t have to go far!

  2. gene willis

    believe it or not,their was nothing back in 1968 0r 69 about solar batteries.solar batteries didnt come out until the early 1980 and even then it covered the length of a car.and the battery operated cars had at least six heavey batteries in the trunk.no lunar lander was drivin on the moon.never has been and never will be done.nasa keeps lying.i know,because i was 16 teen when that didnt happen.

  3. gene willis

    xeno,the germans made the first car and it to folded up.that didnt make it a sports car.if you think nasa had a rover running around on the moon,then have them prove it here on earth.lets see that 20th century marval.i am sure nasa would be more then willing to put this out there if it were true.i mean,if nasa has a motor that can start in a vacuum,i am sure it can start in fresh air.

    1. Sam

      What would prevent an electric motor from working in a vacuum? Honestly, pretty much everything you wrote was off, but I thought I’d pick the funniest one to ask about.

    2. Alf Beharie

      Actually Gene, the first car was French, and steam powered, way back in the 1770’s! I think your confusing the LRV’s electric motors with the internal combustion engine, often called a “motor”. The former will work happily in a vacuum, but the latter won’t work at all.

  4. gene willis

    because,back then cars didnt run off batteris only.gas and fuel and batteris were used.solar cars were not even invented back then or talked about.so if nasa made a rover capable of running on batteries only,then why didnt we have this type of technalogy back in the mid to late sixties?then we wouldnt be using gas or fuel to run our equipment back then,just batteries and solar power.could you explain this sam?cars from the sixties running on battery power only and no othere fuel.please show me a picture of the car s made in the sixries that ran on battery powe only and i will believe the lunar ran on only batteries.

    1. Xeno Post author

      Gene, The first rover on the moon was used on July 31, 1971, during the Apollo 15 mission and development started at Grumman and Northrop in the fall of 1962 on designs where electric motors were in each wheel. I assume that this is where the 36-volt silver-zinc potassium hydroxide non-rechargeable batteries were created.

    2. Alf Beharie

      Actually Gene, the first known electric car was built in 1837 by chemist Robert Davidson of Aberdeen, Scotland, so they have been around a lot longer than you think!

  5. gene willis

    one more question,what size electric motor did nasa use to fully operate this vehical on the moon and how did they charge it up on the moon.concidering back in the mid to late sixties,solar power recharging wasnt invented yet.and what was the max range of an all battery operated vehical back in the sixties? and where did they stow these batteries on the lunar rover? and what type of electric motor did they use to operate this vehical? and how did thay assemble the rover on the moon concidering the avalible space back then.not to mention fuel and distance of travel.sam??

    1. Xeno Post author

      The batteries in the rover were sent up fully charged and were not rechargeable. The capacity of 121 A·h each (a total of 242 A·h), translated into a range of 57 miles (92 km). … According to one manual for the Lunar Rover (pdf), the drive motors are direct-current brush-type which operate on 36 volts (DC).

      “Non-rechargeable silver-zinc batteries powered the Apollo Lunar Module (Apollo spacecraft), lunar rover (space exploration vehicle) and life support backpack (“backpack” of a spacesuit). ” – link

      DC electric motors had been in use for many years by the time of the Apollo missions:

      In 1886 Frank Julian Sprague invented the first practical DC motor, a non-sparking motor capable of constant speed under variable loads. Other Sprague electric inventions about this time greatly improved grid electric distribution (prior work done while employed by Thomas Edison), allowed power from electric motors to be returned to the electric grid, provided for electric distribution to trolleys via overhead wires and the trolley pole, and provided controls systems for electric operations. This allowed Sprague to use electric motors to invent the first electric trolley system in 1887–88 in Richmond VA, the electric elevator and control system in 1892, and the electric subway with independently powered centrally controlled cars, which was first installed in 1892 in Chicago by the South Side Elevated Railway where it became popularly known as the “L”. Sprague’s motor and related inventions led to an explosion of interest and use in electric motors for industry, while almost simultaneously another great inventor was developing its primary competitor, which would become much more widespread. – link

      As you can see from the photo, the 463 lb (210 kg) lunar rover folded up. So to assemble it, they just unfolded it. This was a one way procedure and took 5 min on a level surface, 15 min worst case.

      1. Xeno Post author

        There was so much money and so many brilliant people working on Apollo. I wish we would mobilize our country now in the same way to come up with a working alternative energy solution. The only reason I can think that that is not being done is that there is military/corporate fear that an energy-independent population would destroy the current master-slave relationship. Imagine a small machine in each home and in each car that provided all the energy we need. This is why Tesla’s wireless power idea never got off the ground. Energy companies could not make people pay for power if it was transmitted everywhere like radio is today.

        There still may be some secrets about the Apollo mission. We may find out 100 years from now, for example, that the real first men on the moon died there.

  6. Tre Louis

    “Frank said:
    February 29, 2012 at 8:54 am
    NASA video footage from their archive shows that the moon buggy had a muffler and sputtered around the moon’s surface. That video disproves the false claims that they were battery operated and also indicates that the NASA footage was filmed on Earth and not on the moon”

    In your haste to disprove NASA’s (and by virtue of their being owned by taxpayers) and the American people’s achievements you have over looked some very simple details.

    In addition to the actual Lunar Roving Vehicle that was deployed on the surface of the moon there were several test models assembled in various configurations for evaluations conducted on the earth prior to launch. You could very easily have seen something of this nature that was filmed for test purposes and later presented by a member of the public after declassification, someone like yourself, in an attempt to discredit the space program or simply shot by imposters and posted to cause confusion, distrust and anger.

    Either way, you could benefit from taking a long slow breath and a step back, then performing some true due diligence before flying off the handle to support some personal delusion.

    1. Alf Beharie

      The main giveaway of a hoax with the LRV is the “rooster tails” given off by the wheels…On the Moon with no atmosphere and 1/6th Earth gravity, the dust coming off the wheels should rise a lot further than shown in the Apollo videos and it should settle back in a perfect arc too…Its doesn’t to either, because its shot down here on Earth in a thick atmosphere!

  7. David Hill

    The batteries for not only the Lunar Rover, but the entire Saturn V and SIVB launch vehicles, including Command and Service Modules were manufactured at the Couples Division of Eagle-Picher Industries, located in Joplin, Missouri. We did not manufacture the fuel cells, but through our effort, we were able to “jury rig” the batteries between the Apollo 13 Lunar Module and the Command Module for safe return of our three astronauts. The Apollo 13 Command Module currently on view at the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas.

    I conducted the contractual management and negotiation for several of the battery groups; that being of the IBM portion of the Saturn V, the three descent batteries located in the Command Module and the two batteries powering the Lunar Rovers. At minimum, I have finger prints remaining on the moon upon each of the Lunar Rover batteries. The basic concept of the batteries was one shot, maximum power and they were not rechargeable.

    We also produced the silver-zinc oxide batteries that powered the Mercury and Gemini manned flight vehicles.

    The Skylab batteries we provided were of a nickle cadmium design for recharging. In early 1971, we set the world speed record for an electric vehicle at the Bonneville Salt Flats using silver-zinc oxide batteries.

    1. Xeno Post author

      I appreciate your battery contributions. It would be great if the country got behind a new big project like fusion power. So much collaboration is possible now with the Internet. How do we spend this great gift? Do we work on solving the problems of humanity? No, we post on Facebook about what we are eating for dinner. :-/

    2. Alf Beharie

      The Apollo 13 crew were never in any danger…Apollo 13 was staged to keep public interest in Apollo piqued and thus to keep the funding for Apollo going. Money that was largely syphoned off to fund secret black projects.

  8. Betbunker

    Absolute rubbish! The calculator wasn’t invented until 1972 never mind driving around the moon. Where are the blueprints for the rockets that supposedly got to the moon and why in 2014 are the private companies still using Russian made rockets designed in the 1960’s. The Russians put the first animal, man, satellite and space station in orbit yet 51 years later since JFK announced that they would go to the moon the Russians still can’t do it. Wake up!

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