Sunday, August 23, 2009


In the previous post we touched on the subject of robotic vehicles.

I was watching the Science Channel this afternoon and saw a documentary, "Tank on the Moon," that detailed Soviet efforts to land a remote controlled vehicle on the moon in the early 1970's.

And they did, twice, on November 17, 1970 and January 15, 1973. Lunokhod-1 was operational for almost a year. Lunokhod-2 may have become non-operational as early as mid-May 1973.

There is a bit of hype to the program but it is still interesting. The Unmanned Space Flight blog has some input on this. This was not a top secret operation; instead, the rooskies were trumpeting their achievements while it was happening. The Lunokhod transmitted images of the tracks it left on the moon. It could do 1.25 mph.

During the 1960s, the United States and the Soviet Union were engaged in a feverish competition to be the first to set foot on the moon. We know who won this race, but less about a secret chapter. The Soviets many not have sent a man to the moon, but they successfully guided two small robots by remote control from the earth. For 16 months between 1970 and 1973, these "Lunokhods" traveled more than thirty miles over the moon's surface. With the declassification of the former USSR space archives, along with recollections by several of the key participants in the Lunokhod program, the true story of the Russian lunar robots can finally be told.

The Russian scientist responsible for the Lunokhod proejct, Alexander Komurjian, was invited to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1992. He assisted American scientists and engineers in designing the Rovers later used on Mars. He died in 2003.
You can buy a rooskie "Lunokhod" wrist watch on EBay for $35.


Mope said...

Hey Sig! That's my watch! Look at the 18, it's even got my name there! Where do I go to get it back?

sig94 said...

Wow, I didn't see that. Call the rooskies! Quick! Putin probably has it!

Mope said...

Crap, Putin will just claim it was a gift anyway.

sig94 said...

Not to worry. Dubyah looked into Putin's eyes and into his soul and out his asshole and found both the ring AND your watch in his back pocket between a squished Snickers Bar and a roll of Tums.

Lender said...

This shows how ahead of us the Russians are in terms of space research. Although I must say that we have also improved by leaps and bounds.