Lunar Rover Mechanic
When President Gingrich establishes a new lunar colony in his second term, I’ll be ready – if I’m still in good health. You see, forty years ago, I helped create the Lunar Rover (LRV), the car that drove on the moon. You might say I was a fancy mechanic, making sure that everything worked well and making hundreds of repairs and tweaks to the design before launch. Now, I’m a car mechanic working on Rockland County used cars, but back then, I was a NASA employee. I had the help of over 400,000 engineers and technicians who worked on the LRVs at one time or another. We used to call the LRV a moon buggy, and we loved those revolutionary vehicles. The first one went up on the Apollo 15 mission and covered over 56 miles of lunar surface in mid-1971.
I’ll never forget that first LRV. None other than ex-Nazi Wernher von Braun asked for it, and we had only 17 months to give it to him. To say it was a mad dash is a gross understatement. For one thing, we had to make the buggy fold in on itself so that it could fit into a compartment about the size of the back of a station wagon. We had to modify the fuel complement of the lunar lander to account for the additional weight of the LRV, because the lander would have to hover above the moon long enough to find a good landing site, expending fuel every second it looked.
The LRV was a speed demon, capable of hitting over eight miles per hour. The buggy doubled the amount of terrain an astronaut could walk on foot. We installed special wire-mesh tires to handle the fine, parched soil that blankets the moon’s surface. No gas tank on this vehicle – strictly battery-powered. Two astronauts could ride, along with supplies and any rock samples they collected. The astronauts were not allowed to go beyond walking distance of the lander in case the buggy broke down, but that never happened. We did have one little incident on Apollo 17 – the LRV’s fender came off during driving, spraying Astronaut Schmitt with moon dust. We figured out how to fix the problem – all it took was a little duct tape. Schmitt survived the effects of the moon dust, but he was always a little whacky after that.