Apollo 15 lunar module pilot Jim Irwin loads the lunar rover with tools and equipment in preparation for exploring the Hadley-Apennine landing site.
Credit: NASA



A partnership between the City of Kent, Washington and Kent Downtown have applied to receive historic landmark designation for the Lunar Roving Vehicles that were built at the Boeing Space Center.

A public hearing in front of the King County Landmarks Commission will be held on Thursday, July 25 at the Kent City Hall Council Chambers. If successful in achieving this designation at the local level, the region plans to pursue state recognition as well.

Astronaut John Young works at the mission’s Apollo 16 Moon buggie in April 1972.
Credit: NASA

As of now, California and New Mexico are the only states with lunar objects in their state historic registers.

Rich history

“Kent Valley is rooted in rich aerospace history due to Boeing’s early presence and a world-class, specialized workforce that continues to develop innovative technology,” said Michael Lombardi, historian for Boeing.

In December of 1972, Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt spent about 75 hours exploring the Moon’s Taurus-Littrow valley.
Credit: NASA

“This region’s impact on space exploration has global significance, and we’re ready to honor the achievements of these Lunar Roving Vehicles and their brilliant engineers,” Lombardi said in a press statement.

As a major subcontractor, the General Motors’ Defense Research Laboratories in Santa Barbara, California, furnished the mobility system (wheels, motors, and suspension) for the lunar rover design.

Apollo 15 landing site imaged by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter camera system, LROC. The Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) is parked to the far right, and the Lunar Module descent stage is in the center, LRV tracks indicated with arrows.
Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

Trio of wheeled vehicles

Boeing crafted these, two-person, human-controlled “moon buggies” in only 17 months to become the mobile vessels for six astronauts to safely explore the Moon’s landscape. They were used in Apollo missions 15, 16 and 17 in 1971 and 1972 – and this hardware remained on the Moon.

Scientist-astronaut Harrison Schmitt of Apollo 17 later reported: The Lunar Rover proved to be the reliable, safe and flexible lunar exploration vehicle we expected it to be. Without it, the major scientific discoveries of Apollo 15, 16, and 17 would not have been possible; and our current understanding of lunar evolution would not have been possible.”

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