Moon Buggy Prototype Found In Junkyard!

Lunar Rover Prototype

If you thought Jamie’s Mooncraft Racer was out of this world, you’ll really love this Moon Buggy prototype that was recently discovered in a junkyard in Alabama. This is an actual lunar rover prototype that was built in 1965, with the hope of being the first vehicle to be driven on the moon. Sadly, it never made it to the moon and instead found its way into a scrapyard. Thankfully, someone had the good sense to keep it around! Today, it has been pulled from the junk pile and is now slated to be auctioned off here by RRAuction. Special thanks to Brett P and Peter R for this tip!

Moon Buggy Prototype

So the story goes that this prototype was built by Brown Engineering for NASA. Being a prototype, it never made it to the moon, but it did experience zero gravity in NASA’s KC-135 Zero G aircraft. After it served its purpose as a test bed, Lunar Scientific Survey Module was sold at an auction. It found its way into the new owner’s yard in Blountsville, Alabama and that’s where it stayed until a US Airforce historian came across it and reported it to NASA. They made an attempt to recover it, whatever that means, but didn’t have any success. The current owner and seller has managed to get some of the documents from NASA and has gone to great lengths to prove it is LSSM.

LSSM Prototype Test Drive

So how does one prove something as simple and basic as this vehicle really is the prototype built for NASA? Well one of the engineers that worked at NASA during the Apollo 11 program has looked it over, checked the measurements and confirms that it’s the real deal. It’s definitely an amazing piece of history and really needs to be preserved, if not restored. I’m curious to see if NASA tries to buy it so they can restore and put it on display, as it is an important piece of space exploration history. I’m not sure what an individual would do with something like this, but I guess it would be fun to take out for a spin! Just look at how happy Wernher von Braun looks driving it!

Read more about it here at Al.com

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Comments

  1. RayT Member

    Okay, who’s gonna buy this and drop a SBC in it?

    • Charles

      ME! ME! I want to drop a SBC in it…

      • Mike

        Heck with a SBC I got a Hemi sitting in a crate at my Shop that would look cool in it!!!!

  2. bob

    Sure looks heavy for something you would take to the Moon.

    • RayT Member

      It’s probably fabricated from unobtanium and weighs about 3.7 pounds

      • Birdman

        And powered by Atmospherium….

  3. hhaleblian

    Kinda looks like Mr Trump at the helm.

  4. Rob

    Hmmmm, let’s see.. the Auction Co states it would charge a premium of 22.5% to the buyer, i.e. above the ending ‘hammer’ price, and according to their estimated value, that could possibly add anywhere between $28K to $33K to the final price. Yep, once again proving one man’s junk is another’s treasure.. Naw, I think I’ll pass.. :)

  5. Chris

    I think I would ask for my money back from Brown Engineering. That thing looks very crude. I love the attempt to make a bad design light with holes in the chassis and wheels.

    This one would be cool to have and just electrify it with a 10 mile range so you could get to the car shows and back.

  6. Matt Tritt

    Not so fast! (Literally and figuratively)…. This buggy has absolutely no suspension, which would have made travelling the lunar surface both uncomfortable and dangerous as hell. Remember the low gravity thing? Bouncing astronauts! The actual lunar rover had extremely sophisticated springy tire/wheels that absorbed minor shocks from rocks and skeletal remains of Hitler and Elvis.

  7. Chris

    The metal tires on the rover were mostly so it could collapse and fit onto the side of the LEM. They did also provide some suspension, but the ride was pretty rough as you can see from the cool videos. My sense is this was built to prove out the electric drive and maybe some other stuff. If you loo at the pictures you can see some rusty components that look like some crude switches to control the drive. Certainly nothing like PWM on a Tesla.

  8. Thomas Allen

    Restore it? Let me see…… Thats right, theres another one on the moon. 😈

    • packrat

      Original spares available: Shipping cost prohibitive.

  9. Jeffstag

    Don’t you remember ‘Salvage 1’? The TV series were Andy Griffith did the exact thing with a homemade rocket. I think his landing module was made from an old cement truck. Piece of cake I tell ya.

    • Kevin

      I’ve been trying to think of the name of that show forever. Thanks for the reminder.

  10. Nater Kane

    it’s a railroad cart.

    • bluzemn1

      thank you !!! i’m glad someone else saw that

      • Alan (Michigan)

        My first reaction as well.

    • Bobsmyuncle

      Yeah I was going to call BS on the story based in that first photo.

      But I guess it is legit!

    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      That was also my first thought. Plus, the auction house’s name is appropriate.

    • Alan (Michigan )

      Oops.
      Smartphone sent a “Report” on the post, an obvious mistake.

      Sorry

  11. Newport Pagnell

    Think the auction house should share the profits with the US taxpayers…. Just thinking out loud.

  12. ron h

    Note the radius at the top of the rollcage is different between the junkyard find and the nasa file photo. It also looks like the one in the file photo has an asymetrical slope between the front and rear bars (may be the angle of the picture). Perhaps they made several testbeds before deciding on the final unit?

  13. JW

    When I first viewed the photo in the email I thought someone mounted a metal swing set on a railroad cart. I’m truly amazed at some of the finds we have here.

  14. Van

    How many of us could build this from the parts from a scrap metal yard.
    And do I need to point out the obvious, the CIA was building a railroad on the moon to freek the Russians.
    You think Cuban missiles, we say to the moon Alice.

  15. Bobsmyuncle

    Okay so I voiced some curiosity yesterday in the Trans Am thread, and I HAVE to do it again.

    What the heck were Brett and Peter searching for when they stumbled on this LOL?!

    • Peter R Member

      Ha. ‘like your inquisitive inquiry…
      Not many of us have a saved search bookmarked for “intergalactic go-carts”

  16. The Chucker

    That guy in the photo driving it back in the day looks like Donald Trump.

  17. Joe

    The angle of shadows in the old photo don’t seem to match the level of day light. The image is really an actor pretending to be Wernher von Braun test driving a buggy on a Hollywood set that was made to look like a road on earth.

    • Bobsmyuncle

      I see what you did there LOL.

    • Alan (Michigan )

      Heh!
      Good one. :-D

    • Chebby

      Well played, sir.

  18. OhU8one2

    Seriously now. The real Luner Rover was built by Boeing and GM. At a final cost of $38,000,000.00. Original quote was 19 million. Oop’s. Famous line by Maxwell Smart “Missed it by that much” as he was holding out his fingers. Great show by the way.

  19. Van

    I think it has friction shocks and a live axle.
    It has a bug in the stability control.
    The traction control and ABS have been removed.
    Can you imagine donuts on the moon.
    Think of the rooster tail that won’t blow away.

  20. OA5599

    Just what I’ve been looking for.

    I’ve got some spare Dilithium crystals and a low mileage Warp Drive ready to drop in…

  21. Ric Parrish

    The surface of the moon is 253 degrees F, so you need those huge steel wheels to keep from burning up. I like the little canvas backpack the astronauts wore, must have been a secret space age device, since it had to heat them in the 400 below zero nights as well. Magic!

  22. Ric Parrish

    Can you imagine the money Brown Engineering made, scamming this thing together?
    I would have given anything for a Gov. project like this. I can see it folding right up to fit in the Lunar Lander. Beam me up Scotty!

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