Duct Tape & The Lunar Rover


Duct tape is great stuff. Even NASA knows that. They sent some to the moon, and it came in handy when Apollo 17 used it to fix a broken lunar rover fender.

(Larger picture can be found at APOD.)
Duct tape came in handy when Apollo 13 neded to adapt a round CO2 air scrubber to a square hole – but that’s a different post. (If you haven’t seen Ron Howard’s Apollo 13, go out and rent it now.)During the first EVA of Apollo 17, astraonaut Mission Commander Gene Cernan accidentally knocked the right-rear fender off the LRV. He had a hammer in a tool belt snag the fender as he was walking around the back of the rover. At the start of EVA-2, he attached a replacement fender made of spare maps and grey duct tape. The replacement fender was attached with a pair of screw clamps that held auxiliary lamps in the cabin.Gene took the above picture at one of the stops of the day’s travels.NASA Transcript of breaking the fender. (Scroll down to 118:51:26 )
118:51:26 Cernan: No!! There goes a fender.
118:51:28 Schmitt: Oh, shoot!

NASA Transcript of making the fender fix. (Scroll down to 138:32:00 )
138:32:00 Young: Okay, Geno, I don’t think you need to copy this.
Sort of just ad-lib it. With your four cronopaque maps,
tape two maps and allow about a l-inch overlap to (create)
a 15-inch by 10-1/2-inch configuration.
138:32:20 Young: That’s an estimate. And then repeat with two other
maps, and then tape the two maps – now four maps –
tape them together, and you’ll end up with a sheet that’s
about 15 inches by 19 inches, a sheet of cronopaque. And
then tape both sides of it – the overlapping edges – to
strengthen it. And you can further strengthen it if you tape
an “X” of tape across both sides of it.
138:32:55 Young: And then, on the roll up, on the long axis, secure
it with a strip of tape and put it in the ETB. And, on that
strip of tape you secure it with, be sure and leave a tab
on the end of it so you can get it off with your gloves.
And then remove clamps from both the utility light units,
and open the clamp jaws to max. And then tighten the
mounting bracket that you’ve got on it so (that) it will be
swinging around; and stow the clamps in the ETB. You got
that, Gene?

In all fairness to Gene, this wasn’t the first lunar rover to have fender issues. Apparently, they broke easily in training, and the fender extensions didn’t always deploy correctly. There was a good reason this repair was needed. Lunar soil kicked up easily by the rover’s wheels, making huge “rooster tails”. They had procedures for dealing with this, mostly adding cleaning chores to their workload. All this extra lunar dust flying around meant more equipment failure and more contamination of scientific instruments.

I’m working on a posting about Lunar Dust. Stay tuned…

Interesting Related Links:
Apollo Surface Journal – tons of details & transcripts
Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) Missing Fender Extension Saga (PDF) – Showing fender issues with other Apollo missions
Short AVI Movie of Lunar dust “rooster tails” from the rover.