Moon Hammer

Al Bean carries the hammer

Copyright Date 1993
Completed 1999
10 1/4 x 7 inches, Acrylic on Masonite, No Texture

The exploration of the Moon required, among other things, tools and the training to use them. We dug, chipped, erected, scraped, carried and hammered, and we did it all in a cumbersome, stiff space suit.

For the most part these tasks were easier to do in the Moon's light gravity. Even our arms weighed less.

But one thing that wasn't as easy as expected was hammering. Breaking small rock fragments off bigger boulders, driving in our hollow-pipe core tubes, even pounding in the bottom section of our flagstaff seemed to take longer than in training. Some of the difficulty was caused by the more angular shapes of the small soil particles. On Earth these particles were rounded by the action of rain and wind and would more readily roll out of the way as an object was driven into the soil.

But I never believed the reduced weight of the hammer, my arm, and my upper body were factors too as this did not allow me to strike an object with the same force with an equivalent muscular effort. It seemed to me I had to move my arm faster to get the needed impact and that resulted in reduced accuracy in hitting what I was aiming at. I missed a lot and seemed to tire more quickly.

We discussed this with the engineers when we got back and the result was a new hammer for future missions. It had a bigger, heavier head to provide more mass, thus more hitting power, and equally important, a larger striking surface. Even a simple hammer needed redesign to be effective on the Moon.