Last man on moon recalls bouncy drive on surface 40 yrs ago

Thursday, 20 December 2012 - 7:29pm IST | Place: Washington | Agency: ANI

Eugene Cernan's name will be etched in the history books as not just the last man to walk on moon, but also the last to drive on it.


A Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), which was taken along with the crew of Apollo 17 to the moon forty years ago on this very day, is the most famous abandoned car, not in this world, but in the universe.

Capt Ronald Evans, Harrison Schmitt and mission commander Capt Eugene Cernan, who took the car along, safely returned to earth five days after departing the surface of the moon four decades ago.

Cernan's name will be etched in the history books as not just the last man to walk on moon, but also the last to drive on it, reports Fox News.

Apollo 17 was one of three moon missions to bring along a LRV, which is said to be the "coolest electric car" ever made and one that gave the astronauts the ability to cover much more ground during their short stays than would've been possible on foot.

The 10-foot-long two-seater was built by Boeing with some help from General Motors. Despite its lightweight aluminum frame, it could carry double its 463 pounds in the low-gravity environment of the moon. It was powered on its journeys by two 36-volt battery packs and has a Delco electric motor in each of its wheels to provide all-wheel-drive and redundancy in case of any malfunctions.

"There was no key. We weren't worried about anybody stealing that automobile, especially the Soviets. They were a quarter of a million miles away," said Cernan.

Commenting on the drive, he said: "It felt wonderful. You were bouncing around all the time. The only time you had four wheels on the ground was when you weren't moving.

Cernan said some of the finer details of his trip have faded over the years, but four decades later he remembers exactly where he parked his car before heading for home.

"I left it about a couple of hundred feet from the LEM. I set it up with the camera that was mounted on it pointed at the lunar module. They controlled the television camera remotely from mission control and that's where those pictures of the takeoff you see today come from," he said.

The LRV wasn't the only thing he left behind, however. Cernan traced his daughter's initials in the surface next to the right front wheel where they likely remain today. 

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