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  Mercury - Gemini - Apollo
  Apollo lunar rover failures and contingencies

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Author Topic:   Apollo lunar rover failures and contingencies
KenDavis
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Posts: 180
From: W.Sussex United Kingdom
Registered: May 2003

posted 03-27-2012 03:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KenDavis   Click Here to Email KenDavis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Did NASA have contingency plans in case the Lunar Rover became inoperable? If so how would the EVAs have changed to still achieve as much as possible or would alternative plans have been made if the situation arose?

What would have happened on Apollo 17 if they hadn't been able to fix the broken dust guard?

jtheoret
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Posts: 123
From: Albuquerque, NM USA
Registered: Jul 2003

posted 03-27-2012 09:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jtheoret   Click Here to Email jtheoret     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Charlie Duke told me that they weren't allowed to drive more than 4 miles away from the LM in any one direction because that was the distance NASA believed they could walk back if they had to.

Paul78zephyr
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Posts: 395
From: Hudson, MA
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 03-28-2012 08:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Four miles! I cannot imagine a crew on foot in their suits walking 4 miles.
  1. Was this ever simulated on earth?
  2. How long was it estimated that a 4 mile walk back would take?
  3. How far was the furthest 'walk' on previous Apollo lunar EVAs?

jtheoret
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Posts: 123
From: Albuquerque, NM USA
Registered: Jul 2003

posted 03-28-2012 10:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jtheoret   Click Here to Email jtheoret     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Al Shepard and Ed Mitchell walked the farthest during Apollo 14. They walked just short of a couple of miles I think and took about four and a half hours but they were sampling and not just trying to get back to the LM in a hurry.

No idea how long it was estimated to go four miles, or answers to other questions, but they're good ones.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 30740
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 03-28-2012 10:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA's Apollo 14 summary includes the following:
Shepard set a new distance-traveled record on the lunar surface of approximately 9,000 feet.
Converting, 9,000 feet is 1.7 miles.

Jay Chladek
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Posts: 2270
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 03-28-2012 12:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Was that round trip or one way?

KenDavis
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Posts: 180
From: W.Sussex United Kingdom
Registered: May 2003

posted 03-28-2012 01:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KenDavis   Click Here to Email KenDavis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks all. My point was EVAs were planned given the crew could travel 4 miles. If at the start of an EVA the LRV was found to be unusable was there already a contingency EVA planned with a nearer target?

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 30740
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 03-28-2012 01:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is mention in the Apollo 17 preliminary science report that the choice of landing sites (between Gassendi, Alphonsus and Taurus-Littrow) considered the possibility that the LRV would fail.
If the lunar module were to land down range of the nominal ellipse, it was likely that, even if the landing were successful, the crewmen would not be able to traverse to the prime objective (the central peaks), particularly if there were a failure of the lunar roving vehicle (LRV). These problems were deemed sufficient that the NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (JSC) considered Gassendi unacceptable as an Apollo 17 site.

...as in the case of Alphonsus, it was determined that the prime objective at Taurus-Littrow was achievable on a walking mission (LRV failure), even if the landing were made outside the nominal ellipse.

And just to touch on a side topic...
quote:
Originally posted by jtheoret:
...they weren't allowed to drive more than 4 miles away.
Apparently, it was six miles. From the Apollo 16 press kit:
The maximum distance the LRV will be permitted to range from the lunar module will be approximately 9.4 kiiometers (5.9 miles), the distance the crew could safely walk back to the LM in the unlikely event of a total LRV failure. This walkback distance limitation is based upon the quantity of oxygen and coolant available in the astronauts' portable life support systems. This area contains about 292 square kilometers (113 square miles) available for investigation, 10 times the area that can be explored on foot.

MCroft04
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Posts: 1326
From: Smithfield, Me, USA
Registered: Mar 2005

posted 03-28-2012 06:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Schmitt is quoted in Footprints in the Dust "You could go six, ten kilometers an hour quite easily. If I had had a couple ski poles, I could have possibly gotten up to about fifteen and held that for some time. I think I could have outrun the Rover!" The question is how long could he have kept up that pace?

moorouge
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Posts: 1847
From: U.K.
Registered: Jul 2009

posted 03-29-2012 02:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Though this thread has concentrated on the Rover, wasn't the main consideration the time/distance the 'buddy system' could support a suit failure?

Jim Behling
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Posts: 718
From: Cape Canaveral, FL
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 03-29-2012 12:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No, that is two separate failures.

There was a limit for walking-only EVAs and a limit with the rover.

They wouldn't plan for a rover failure and then a PLSS failure.

bwhite1976
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Posts: 199
From: belleville, IL USA
Registered: Jun 2011

posted 03-29-2012 09:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bwhite1976   Click Here to Email bwhite1976     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Duke indicates in his book "Moonwalker" (pages 148-149) that he and Young weren't happy with the five mile maximum distance rule for the Rover. To prove management wrong, they jogged around in circles for 10 miles in full moon suit and backpack in a special sling that simulated the one-sixth gravity. It took three hours!! Despite proving it could be done, the 5 mile rule remained.

LM-12
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Posts: 1243
From: Ontario, Canada
Registered: Oct 2010

posted 10-13-2014 01:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here are contingency walking EVA traverse maps for the Apollo 15 and Apollo 16 landing sites.

On Apollo 15, Hadley Rille was the planned walking traverse destination on EVA-2. Some travel times:

  • LM to Station A (1:10) on EVA-1
  • LM to Station D (0:34) on EVA-2
  • LM to Station G (1:19) on EVA-3

LM-12
Member

Posts: 1243
From: Ontario, Canada
Registered: Oct 2010

posted 10-14-2014 09:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The ALSJ has this Apollo 17 walking traverse map.

LM-12
Member

Posts: 1243
From: Ontario, Canada
Registered: Oct 2010

posted 10-23-2014 06:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Also on Apollo 17, there is this interesting one-man LRV contingency traverse map.

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