Back in 1969, America sent men to the moon. They discovered that walking in low gravity was very inefficient for the astronauts. As it cost them a lot of energy and air to cover long distances. They needed a vehicle up there, and the famous Lunar Rover was launched soon after.
But the Lunar Rover was not the only solution NASA made for their moon missions. Several options were studied. One of them was a very basic electric motorcycle that was developed in case the Apollo lunar rover wasn’t ready in time for launch.
NASA built its own minibike for tests aboard a zero gravity plane know as the ‘vomit comet’ to replicate lunar gravity. The electric machine boasted a 5/8ths horsepower motor and a 30 amp-hour battery, believed to be the same system that Boeing and GM developed for the Lunar Rover.
Outer space Beeswax
With no atmosphere on the moon to absorb the heat of the lunar motorbike’s motor, NASA engineers took the unusual approach of turning to beeswax, according to an article in a 1972 issue of the American Motorcycle Association’s magazine.
They filled pieces of the frame with it to act as a cooling jacket that would melt and absorb heat. Once the wax got too hot, astronauts would just stop and wait for the wax to re-harden and set off again.
The electric motorcycle never made it to final production because the Lunar Rover was sufficient, but we would have loved seeing this ride around the moon.
For science and exploration on later Apollo missions, astronauts needed better mobility. Several options were studied – including an Electric Motor Scooter. (see test pics below)
In the end, NASA used the Lunar Rover instead, but a lunar dirt bike would’ve been pretty cool. pic.twitter.com/JY0HN1XUax
— NASA History Office (@NASAhistory) January 7, 2020
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