In honor of NASA's new lunar lander design, the Altair, Air & Space Smithsonian is featuring a fine selection of lunar vehicle designs that never took off. The images and text are from Robert Godwin's "The Lunar Exploration Scrapbook: A Pictorial History of Lunar Vehicles," which sounds like a terrificly fun book to review as we set our sights on a new moon mission. Some of the book's art was culled from original photos, blueprints, and concept drawings while other images were recently rendered based on text descriptions of the machines. Seen here is the Chrysler Corporation's Manned Lunar Auxillary Vehicle (MLAV), a nuclear tricycle.
From the book excerpt in Air & Space:
The MLAV had a cargo tray 23 inches by 41 inches in size, and could be operated with a hand controller either by a riding astronaut or by remote control. A full size prototype was built and tested by Chrysler. The power source for this machine was to have been a SNAP 91 radioisotope thermoelectric generator, although it is not clear where this device would have been located. Other refinements would have included a television camera. The three wheels were tested with brushless DC motors which provided enough torque for its projected mission. Its primary use was as a "pack animal," but it could be used to carry one astronaut if required. The entire vehicle could be folded up flat.