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Looms To Manually Weave Lunar Rover Wheels

Here are several interesting photos showing how the wire mesh wheels of the Apollo program Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) wheels were actually hand-woven. The LRV was a battery-powered four-wheeled rover used on the Moon in the last three missions of the American Apollo program (15, 16, and 17) during 1971 and 1972.

The wheels were designed and manufactured by General Motors Defense Research Laboratories in Santa Barbara, California.[21] Ferenc Pavlics was given special recognition by NASA for developing the "resilient wheel".[22] They consisted of a spun aluminum hub and a 32-inch (81 cm) diameter, 9-inch (23 cm) wide tire made of zinc-coated woven 0.033-inch (0.84 mm) diameter steel strands attached to the rim and discs of formed aluminum. Titanium chevrons covered 50% of the contact area to provide traction. Inside the tire was a 25.5-inch (65 cm) diameter bump stop frame to protect the hub. Dust guards were mounted above the wheels. Each wheel had its own electric drive made by Delco, a direct current (DC) series-wound motor capable of 0.25 horsepower (190 W) at 10,000 rpm, attached to the wheel via an 80:1 harmonic drive, and a mechanical brake unit. Each wheel could free-wheel in case of drive failure.

It's fascinating to me how the Apollo program forced people to think outside their usual boxes in both the design and the manufacturing of space program hardware.

Science fiction writers imagined space spiders and their uses a quarter-century ago. In 1978, Arthur C. Clarke wrote about a spider used to test the cables of a space elevator in The Fountains of Paradise. Spinnerettes were used to handle and dispense continuous pseudo one-dimensional diamond crystal in building the cables.

Author Charles Sheffield also wrote about a machine he called a Spider in his 1979 novel The Web Between the Worlds; these devices were able to extrude cable in a manner similar to the way real spiders spin their webs.

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