Test Drive

Cernan driving the rover prior to installation of the TV and TV control boxes at the front, and all the geology equipment at the back

Painting Completed 1984
18 x 24 inches, Acrylic on Masonite

Apollo 17 Astronaut Eugene Cernan is taking his brand new lunar rover for a quick test drive. He and Jack Schmitt have just lowered the rover from its berth on the side of the lunar module where it was stowed, folded up.

The rover looks a little different than a conventional automobile, but for a good reason. It's powered by batteries driving small electric motors on each wheel. An automobile engine wouldn't run up here because there is no air to mix with the gas. There is no steering wheel or accelerator or brake pedal, either, as they would be too tiring to work in the rigid spacesuit. All these control features are provided by a small control stick mounted between the seats. Gene has only to push the stick to go forward, push it right to go right, and so forth.

The rover looks very sporty right now because most of its equipment has not yet been mounted. In a few minutes, Gene and Jack will install the television camera and antenna on the front; the tool pallet and tools on the rear, and then all the rest of the gear that make the rover a super work vehicle.

Gene is probably praying the rover performs as expected because he and Jack need to travel their planned exploration routes over the next three days. On their longest excursion, they will travel a total of 12 miles. The rover comes with a written, one hundred-percent lifetime warranty. However, the vehicle must be returned to the original dealer, 239,000 miles away, to get anything fixed.