HOW WE WILL EXPLORE THE MOON (Jun, 1959)

I love this. The 3 page description of how man will explore the moon includes this crucial fact: “Movies may be shown, if desired.”

HOW WE WILL EXPLORE THE MOON

An original MI design by FRANK TINSLEY

EARTHMEN who land on the moon will need a special lunar vehicle for exploration. The vehicle must be self-sustaining and capable of traversing both the smooth, dust-paved crater beds and climbing the steep rocky passes of their mountainous rims.

Mi’s design for this difficult job is a giant Moon Explorer unicycle with a spherical body mounted inside its rolling rim and composed almost entirely of inflated fabric parts. These constitute the lightest possible structure and can be easily disassembled and deflated for storage.

The Moon Explorer is 32 ft. high. It is driven by electric motors and stabilized and steered by gyroscopic tilting. Power is derived from a circular “parasol” faced with solar batteries that always face the sun. Those atop the disc are of the light-actuated type. The bottom units are thermal generators, extracting electricity from reflected ground heat. This arrangement uses every inch of area and constitutes a simple, long-lived generator with no moving parts. It not only produces free power but also serves to shield the vehicle’s body from the burning rays of the unfiltered lunar sun. Despite its large size, the parasol is extremely light in weight. It consists of an envelope of thin, inflated fabric, stiffened by internal spokes and a rim of inflated tubing. It is carried above the wheel tread on four light magnesium legs and mounted on a ball-joint so it can be tilted to any angle. An electric eye, linked to gyros in the hub, controls its movements automatically.

The rotating wheel is a self-driving tire. It is made of inflated tubes, faced on the outside with a cleated tread and on the inside with driving lugs. The wheel is driven by inflated terra-tire units, powered by internally mounted electric motors and is kept in place by inflated ball-bearing guides. The bottom five power units act as drivers and the upper three as idlers. All are fitted with motors and are interchangeable. They are mounted on light metal frames which carry power and air-cooling lines into them through the axles. A spare wheel is carried around the vehicle’s body, inflated to act as a bumper in traversing narrow defiles, etc. For convenience in assembling, these wheel units are built in two sections, joined by belt-lacing type fasteners.

The Explorer’s body is a double-walled sphere of plasticized fabric, reinforced by floors and vertical tubing. The tough outer skin is designed to resist cosmic dust and the abrasions of ordinary wear and tear. Its exterior is radiantly painted for maximum visibility. The inner skin is stressed to take the normal atmospheric pressures of earth. Between these walls is insulation to protect against heat, cold and harmful radiation.

Lightweight floors of honeycomb structure divide the interior into three decks. The upper level, enclosed in clear plastic, is the operating and surveying bridge. It is ringed with instrument panels and fitted with searchlights, mapping cameras, etc. On either side of a central well connecting all levels, are seats for the commander and driver. These have a clear view in all directions.

Around the rim of the bridge deck, partially exposed to the sun, is a three-tube hydroponic garden in which algae are grown in a circulating nutrient solution.

This installation operates on the principle of the balanced aquarium, absorbing carbon-dioxide, moisture and body wastes given off by the crew, and producing fresh oxygen in its place. The algae multiply at a rapid rate and, having a high protein food value, are used in conjunction with other rations. The vehicle thus produces its own fresh air and food.

The middle deck contains living quarters. There is ample room for the crew of six. A bathroom and galley are conveniently located and supplies of concentrated food are stored here. Books, record players and TV—picked up from earth satellites—provide recreation. Movies may be shown, if desired.

The lower deck is the hold. Here are carried supplies, spacesuits in lockers, water tanks, oxygen apparatus, etc. On either side of this level is a spherical airlock built into the outer walls. Space-suited crewmen can enter or leave on outside reconnaissance patrols through the air-locks. As air is precious, provision is made to save the atmosphere exhausted from the locks so it can be constantly reused. This is achieved by special pressurized tanks.

This is Mi’s solution to the problem of exploring planets and satellites. It may seem early to be thinking about such matters but at the rate we are closing the gap to the moon, who knows? It could happen tomorrow! •

2 comments
  1. Bob Bello says: July 5, 200910:39 am

    This is an excellent article! I wish it were public domain so we could publish it over and over again! I guess, one could write a detailed review on the subject and publish it indirectly, right? Thanks for sharing. A great read!

  2. darren says: December 12, 201011:07 pm

    What if it falls over?

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