Polaris builds a replica moon buggy

You may have noticed that the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing was marked last week. Polaris, maker of fun things with wheels, thought the best way it could join the commemorations was by building this replica of the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) moon buggy.

Of course, the LRV wasn’t part of the Apollo 11 mission. But three did go to Moon on the later Apollo 15, 16 and 17 missions. They allowed the astronauts to travel further than was possible on foot and could carry a substantial payload. Thanks to the LRVs, a vast amount of moon rock was brought back to Earth that’s still providing insights into the formation of the moon and the wider Solar System. Which goes some way to make up for the fact that the whole LRV project ending up costing twice the original budget – $38 million. Sadly, they couldn’t be brought back to Earth – too heavy for the Lunar Module’s ascent engine – so they remain abandoned on the Moon.

But back to Polaris’s replica. As you can see in the infographic below, it’s a parts bins special. The lithium ion battery pack comes from the GEM electric quadricycle, while the driveline, suspension, steering and brakes have been pilfered from the various quads, bikes, ATVs and side-by-sides that Polaris makes. All of which is bolted onto a bespoke perimeter-frame chassis.

Polaris claims that its replica is “much faster than the original.” That’s perfectly believable as the original LRVs had just 1hp from four electrics motors – one in each wheel. Two stone age 36-volt silver zinc potassium hydroxide batteries provided the power.

Plans are afoot for the LRV replica to lap the Tallageda Superspeedway race track later this year. In the meantime, it’s on a tour around the US.

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By Graham King

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