7.8 How could the large Moon buggy fit inside the small Lunar Module?

IN A NUTSHELL: It was folded up inside the Lunar Module’s descent stage.

THE DETAILS: Many people compare the sizes of the Lunar Roving Vehicle or Rover (the electric car used by Apollo 15, 16 and 17) and of the lunar module and wonder how the Rover could fit inside the LM. The Rover was 2.96 meters (116.5 inches) long, 2.06 meters (81 inches) wide and 1.14 meters (44.8 inches) tall and at first glance seems to be incompatible with the dimensions of the lunar module, whose descent stage was about 4.3 meters (14.1 feet) wide and also had to accommodate the descent rocket engine and its fuel.

The answer is quite simple: the LRV was designed to fold up for transport so that it would fit in one of the wedge-shaped recesses provided in the descent stage frame, covered only by a thermal protection sheet.

The Rover was simply an aluminum chassis with four small electric motors for driving the wheels and two additional motors for actuating the steering system, a battery pack and two tubular frame seats. On Earth it weighed just 210 kilograms (462 pounds). It required no gearbox, no transmission shafts and no wheel axles (the wheels were coupled directly to the motors) and so it could be folded up into a very compact shape (Figure 7-8).

The TV footage of the moonwalks show very clearly how the Rover was extracted and unfolded into its configuration for use.

Figure 7-8. The Apollo 15 Rover, compactly folded into a wedge-like shape with its wheels clustered together, is ready to be stowed in one of the equipment recesses of the LM descent stage. Detail of photo AP15-71-HC-684.