Kid-friendly moon rover takes the spotlight

Lunar rover replica in Kent
Eleven-year-old Chanel Lam gets some tips on moon-buggy driving from Charlie Martin, a retired Boeing employee who worked on the Apollo-era lunar rovers. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

KENT, Wash. — The City of Kent’s newest lunar rover wouldn’t stand up to the radiation-blasted conditions on the surface of the moon, but it’s designed to endure a testing ground that’s nearly as harsh: a park playground.

A kid-friendly reproduction of the moon buggies that transported astronauts around the lunar surface during the Apollo 15, 16 and 17 missions of 1971-1972 had its unveiling on Nov. 14 here at the Accesso Showare Center, which more typically plays host to the Seattle Thunderbirds’ hockey games.

Boeing historian and archivist Mike Lombardi says the rover is a slapshot score.

“Two thumbs up,” he told GeekWire. “It’s a wonderful replica.”

That’s high praise, considering that Boeing built and tested the real-life lunar rovers for NASA in Kent. Three of the two-seated contraptions are still sitting on the lunar surface, and won landmark status from King County in July by virtue of their Kent connection. State historical status is due to be sought for the rovers next March.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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