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Wednesday, 22 January 2020
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Apollo Landspeeder E-mail

Repulsorlifts To The Rescue!

The above photograph of one of the Apollo moon landings shows a lunar rover unlike any design previously shown to the public. ISWWR investigators recognized this immediately as a landspeeder, possibly an X-34!

The Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle was an electric vehicle designed to operate in the low-gravity vacuum of the Moon and to be capable of traversing the lunar surface, allowing the Apollo astronauts to extend the range of their surface extravehicular activities. Three LRVs were driven on the Moon, one on Apollo 15 (see image below, left) by astronauts David Scott and Jim Irwin, one on Apollo 16 by John Young and Charles Duke, and one on Apollo 17 (see image below, right) by Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt.

From time to time issues arose with these lunar rovers: 

The rear fender extension on the Apollo 16 LRV was lost during EVA2 at station 8 when Young bumped into it while going to assist Duke. The dust thrown up from the wheel covered the crew, the console and the communications equipment. High battery temperatures and resulting high power consumption ensued. No repair attempt was mentioned. The fender extension on the Apollo 17 LRV broke when accidentally bumped by Eugene Cernan with a hammer handle. The crew taped the extension back in place, but due to the dusty surfaces, the tape did not adhere and the extension was lost after about one hour of driving, causing the astronauts to be covered with dust. For the second EVA (extra-vehicular activity), a replacement "fender" was made with some EVA maps, duct tape, and a pair of clamps from inside the Lunar Module - nominally intended for the moveable overhead light. This repair was later undone so that the clamps could be brought back inside for launch. The maps were brought back and are now on display at the National Air and Space Museum. The abrasion from the dust is evident on some portions of the makeshift fender.


NASA's interest in a landspeeder, perhaps, resulted from the desire to solve some of these issues and improve lunar research capabilities.

A landspeeder was a hovering ground-based vehicle capable of traveling across most terrains at relatively high speed. Low-power repulsorlifts allowed most landspeeders to constantly hover one to two meters above the ground, both when stationary and while traveling, eliminating the dust kicked up by wheels on a lunar rover. Turbine jet engines were responsible for propelling the vehicle forward. Some landspeeders also mounted weapons which were usually mounted either at the front of the craft or above and behind the pilot and/or passengers. It appears this landspeeder did not have such weaponry.

The landspeeder pictured has been estimated to be a version of the X-34, apparently, a common vehicle found on the outer rim planet of Tatooine.

How did NASA acquire an X-34 landspeeder and who drove it on the moon? Like Apollo lunar rovers left as space junk on the moon, could this landspeeder still remain hidden somewhere on the moon's surface? The investigation continues...

Evidence #: ISWWR0000043

Submitted by: J. Lamb

Below: A schematic of an X-34 landspeeder

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