Monster-trucking on the moon in a newfangled $2 million buggy


New York Times writer John Schwartz took a joyride in a new NASA lunar vehicle that sounds like it ought to come with a Garth Brooks CD:

IT turns on a dime and parallel-parks like a dream. On the downside, it’s a little pricey (at $2 million or so) and its top speed is a pokey 15 miles an hour. Still, there’s a lot to like about the concept car taking shape here at the Johnson Space Center.

Did I say car? The new moon buggy conceived by space center engineers is anything but a car or a buggy. Its official name is Chariot, and this, my friends, is a truck. A heavy duty workhorse of a truck.

“America basically created the truck,” said Lucien Junkin, the chief engineer on the project. And so, he says, why not take a truck to the moon if NASA, as planned, takes humans back, as early as 2020?

It is a beguiling idea, especially as realized in a vehicle infused with the lessons learned from the Apollo-era moon missions and the subsequent success of the Spirit and Opportunity robotic rovers on Mars. This model took a year to build. It looks kind of like what you’d get if a monster truck had a ménage à trois with a flatbed trailer and a medieval siege engine....

Link to full story, with more great photos, and additional links. Image: Erin Trieb for The New York Times
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