Author Topic: Lunar Motorcycle  (Read 7463 times)

Offline Snoopyx

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Lunar Motorcycle
« on: 10/18/2014 11:54 AM »
Could anybody help me please finding further information about a project of lunar motorcycle that seems to be initially developped for Apollo 15 ?

The only information I could find is here : http://www.asphaltandrubber.com/news/lunar-motorbike-nasa-moon-motorcycle/

Is some technical documentation or even general information still available some where ?

Thanks for your help :-)

Offline apollolanding

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Re: Lunar Motorcycle
« Reply #1 on: 10/19/2014 01:14 PM »
I recently stumbled across this on "NASSP's Apollo Sourceforge Project":
"Little information is available, but the 'lunar motorbike' is variously claimed to have been designed as a backup in case the LRV wasn't finished in time for Apollo 15, or planned for use on Apollo 20 in addition to or as a replacement for the LRV.  Apollo 'lunar motorbike' in low-gravity testing. Apollo archive description is John B. Slight of the MSC Flight Support Division rides an original prototype of a lunar cycle under 1/6 gravity conditions aboard a KC-135 aircraft, in August 1969."
http://nassp.sourceforge.net/w/images/6/64/Apmisc-S69-41519.jpg
Hope this helps you
 
« Last Edit: 06/02/2015 01:25 AM by Chris Bergin »
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Offline Snoopyx

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Re: Lunar Motorcycle
« Reply #2 on: 10/19/2014 02:40 PM »
Thank you, apollolanding  :D . I already met that picture, the only one I could find. I'm searching some technical documentation on that. I even don't know who built it ! Probably not Boeing, busy to develop the Lunar Rover, but who developed that ? Where ? What were the capabilities of that motorcycle ? How was it supposed to be installed in the LEM ? I am absolutely unable to find any answer on that subjet.

Anyway, the picture you found is at least a proof that we are not running after a ghost  :)


Offline Bob Shaw

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Re: Lunar Motorcycle
« Reply #3 on: 10/19/2014 03:17 PM »
The motorbike is clearly based on the Honda 'Monkey Bike' series of small-to-tiny motorbikes. These included (in increasing order of size) the Monkey Bike (with a tiny build, requiring the rider to squat on the narrow seat), the Gorilla (more or less the same, but with a (relatively) huge petrol tank) and the only practical bike of the three, the Honda ST or Dax, which was available at various times with 50cc - 125cc engines. As a long-term fan of the ST I still have one, and so far as I am aware they are currently available as Chinese licenced variants with modernised electrics and a 125cc engine (with a 'proper' clutch, not the jerky centrifugal variety first seen).

As for the Lunar variety, I doubt if they would have been very effective. Most off-road bikes have a high CG, making them quite bulky compared to the prototype in the picture above. I'm not at all sure how a high CG vehicle would perform off-road in 1/6th G, but my biker instincts suggest that it would have been an unhappy experience!

Finally, of course, there's the killer: dust. The LRV Grand Prix film showed us the extensive rooster tail of dust thrown up by the wheels, and Apollo 17's fender loss also showed how intolerable even spray from a rear-wheel would inevitably become. Imagine driving with your legs exposed to all that, plus the danger of spacesuit damage if you were to come off the thing.

The way forward on the Moon and Mars might include two-wheels, but if so then I think they'd need to be much more enclosed than the Monkey Bike, rather more like (I hate to say) a scooter or even the odd BMW enclosed bike from the late '90s. As for the CG issue, there's probably an answer in the form of Segway-like auto-balancers, which might make the use of two wheels (or even one) more practical (imagine a set of 'techno trousers' which the astronaut could slip into, and which would do all the balancing autonomously on an electric unicycle while keeping the rider clean - and there'd be no need to worry about penguins on the Moon or Mars!).
« Last Edit: 10/19/2014 03:18 PM by Bob Shaw »

Offline apollolanding

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Re: Lunar Motorcycle
« Reply #4 on: 10/19/2014 05:56 PM »
The "lunar motorcycle" is also depicted in David Shayler's book: "Apollo The Lost & Forgotten Missions":http://books.google.com/books?id=nL3lLGtc9mgC&pg=PA214&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=4#v=onepage&q&f=false

It looks to be an off the shelf scooter rigged to a 1/6th G simulator.  It's possible these "proof of concept" tests were as far as the idea got and that no high fidelity prototypes were built.     
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Offline mcgyver

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Re: Lunar Motorcycle
« Reply #5 on: 10/20/2014 09:38 PM »
I don't see how any two-wheeler could be of any use on a sandy terrain!

Offline simonbp

Re: Lunar Motorcycle
« Reply #6 on: 10/22/2014 04:23 PM »
In addition to the question of traction (which is counter-intuitive not only because of the gravity but because lunar regolith is electrostatically sticky), there was the operational issue of an incapacitated astronaut. With the LRV, the other astronaut could drive the incapacitated astronaut back to the LM, but that would be hard to do with bikes.

Offline manboy

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Re: Lunar Motorcycle
« Reply #7 on: 05/29/2015 07:01 AM »
Another picture (website is in Hungarian)

http://pulispace.blog.hu/2012/03/31/a_holdmoci
"Cheese has been sent into space before. But the same cheese has never been sent into space twice." - StephenB

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Lunar Motorcycle
« Reply #8 on: 05/29/2015 10:55 AM »
Wonder how well a Segway would workout on the moon. They are small and compact.

Offline MattMason

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Re: Lunar Motorcycle
« Reply #9 on: 06/01/2015 02:55 PM »
Wonder how well a Segway would workout on the moon. They are small and compact.

I would say not much better than a conventional two-wheeler. While the Segway has auto-stabilizing features, it's best on flat roads, not off-road. There's also the same dust-generating and rescue problems as a two-wheeler, and we don't want to know how it would handle a sudden dip from a crater.

This one's totally new to me. Just when you think you know of every bright idea in the space program, some engineer fixes that for me. First Big Gemini, now this. :)
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Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: Lunar Motorcycle
« Reply #10 on: 06/02/2015 01:19 AM »
Could a foldable 3 wheeler work on the Moon? Something like a scaled down Campagna T-Rex for a single occupant in enclosed non-pressurized cockpit.

Offline Hoonte

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Re: Lunar Motorcycle
« Reply #11 on: 06/02/2015 09:09 AM »
From an older post about the Lunar bike.
So there are 2 different bikes!
« Last Edit: 06/02/2015 09:10 AM by Hoonte »