It’s not well known today but the domestic American automakers had a major role in the U.S. space effort in the 1960s. The father of the Lunar Rover was Mieczyslaw G. Bekker, a Polish native, a professor at the University of Michigan and a consultant to the U.S. Army Tank Command Center in Warren, Michigan. Later, while with General Motors Defense Research Laboratories, Bekker and associates laid out what would be the basis of the LRV, Lunar Roving Vehicle, an electrically powered (in part solar) two passenger vehicle with wire mesh wheels to provide suspension and the whole thing folded up so it could store in the side of Lunar Excursion Module and unfold and deploy once on the moon’s surface. Chrysler and Ford also participated in the NASA effort to put a man on the moon, but Bekker and the others resolved that if there was going to be a car on the moon, it was going to be made by GM. As it turned out, Boeing won the final contract to assemble the LRV (Chrysler was a bidder) but they followed a design laid out by GM. Rovers were used on three Apollo mssions, 15, 16 and 17, and the vehicles remain on the lunar surface, as much a testament to American pioneering spirit as the American flags left behind. Here is some dash cam footage from the mission of Apollo 16.
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