autoevolution

Off-Roading on the Moon with the SPR

The SPR in actionThe SPR in actionThe SPR in action
While not exactly your typical off-road vehicle, NASA's new lunar rover is certainly a head-turner. In case the sci-fi design doesn't tell you much about this prototype, the space agency informs that the new vehicle (in various configurations) is seen as the “astronauts’ main mode of transportation, and could also allow them the flexibility to work inside of it without the restrictions imposed by spacesuits”.

Consisting of a Mobility Chassis and an SPR cabin module, the lunar rover features pivoting wheels that enable “crab style” movement to help the rover maneuver through difficult spots. The vehicle's modular design also enables various attachments such as winches, cable reels, backhoes and cranes to be mounted.

Apart from the obvious mobility advantages, the SPR (small pressurized rover) shields astronauts from their greatest enemy, the solar particle event (SPE). As NASA mentions, with a heavily shielded suit lock area, the small pressurized rover doubles as a storm shelter. The protective pressurized cocoon can sustain and protect exploring crew members for up to 72 hours against SPE, acute suit malfunctions and other medical emergencies, such as decompression sickness treatment

Another vital advantage is the crew lock concept that provides a rapid Extravehicular Activity (EVA) ingress/egress.

“The crew lock will allow the crew to enter and exit the EVA suit while never having to bring the suit inside, keeping the internal space mostly free of dust and reducing wear and tear on the suits. The crew lock will also minimize the loss of consumables when it is depressurized for EVA, extending duration of an SPR sortie,” the NASA documentation mentions.

Two different configurations of the SPR are currently tested by a team of engineers, astronauts and geologists in the 11th annual Desert RATS, or Research and Technology Studies, in the Arizona desert.

Check out more images in the gallery posted below.

 
 
 
 
 

Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories