General Motors MOLAB
- Concept Led By: NASA
- Companies Involved: General Motors
Back in the mid-1960s, NASA commissioned General Motors to make one of the first spacecraft designs that could be used as manned lunar vehicles. The goal was to explore the Moon and they needed lunar vehicles to move around in when they reached it. On top of this, they needed GM to make a Mobile Laboratory, also known as a MOLAB. The lab prototype was supposed to be 20 feet in length and weigh a little over 4 tons. The lunar rover was going to carry this mobile lab within a closed cabin. This meant it needed to be pressurized and operate like a mobile lab on Earth. It also needed to be capable of sustaining at least two astronauts for up to 2 weeks.
The plan was to mostly conduct geological studies, considering we wanted to see how closely related Moon and Earth rock was to one another. We assumed that there would be similarities with Moon rocks as well as those found on other planets like Mars. Yet this would give definitive proof. The rover actually could manage a speed of 21 mph and go a little over 60 miles on one charge. It used a modified Corvair engine to accomplish this. However, one thing that kills spacecraft designs before launch is often the size. This was the issue for the MOLAB. It was so big that it would have taken the entire Saturn rocket to launch it to the Moon. NASA decided against using this beast of a machine and opted for a slimmer moon buggy design.