Who Is Eduardo San Juan, Designer of the Lunar Rover?

The Lunar Rover being driven on the Moon during Apollo 17.

NASA/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Mechanical engineer Eduardo San Juan (aka The Space Junkman) worked on the team that invented the Lunar Rover, or Moon Buggy. San Juan is considered the primary designer of the Lunar Rover. He was also the designer of the Articulated Wheel System. Prior to the Apollo program, San Juan worked on the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM).

First Use of the Moon Buggy

In 1971, the Moon Buggy was first used during the Apollo 12 landing to explore the moon. The Lunar Rover was a battery-powered, four-wheeled rover also used on the moon in the last three missions of the American Apollo program (15, 16, and 17) during 1971 and 1972. The Lunar Rover was transported to the moon on the Apollo Lunar Module (LM) and, once unpacked on the surface, could carry one or two astronauts, their equipment, and lunar samples. The three LRVs remain on the moon.

What Is a Moon Buggy Anyway?

The Moon Buggy weighed 460 pounds and was designed to hold a payload of 1,080 pounds. The frame was 10 feet long with a wheelbase of 7.5 feet. The vehicle was 3.6 feet tall. The frame was made of aluminum alloy tubing welded assemblies and consisted of a three-part chassis that was hinged in the center so it could be folded up and hung in the Lunar Module Quadrant 1 bay. It had two side-by-side foldable seats made of tubular aluminum with nylon webbing and aluminum floor panels. An armrest was mounted between the seats, and each seat had adjustable footrests and a Velcro-fastened seat belt. A large mesh dish antenna was mounted on a mast on the front center of the rover. The suspension consisted of a double horizontal wishbone with upper and lower torsion bars and a damper unit between the chassis and upper wishbone.

Eduardo San Juan's Education and Awards

Eduardo San Juan graduated from Mapua Institute of Technology. He then studied nuclear engineering at the University of Washington. In 1978, San Juan received one of the Ten Outstanding Men (TOM) awards in science and technology.

On a Personal Note

Elisabeth San Juan, the proud daughter of Eduardo San Juan, had the following to say about her father:

When my father submitted the conceptual design for the Lunar Rover he submitted it via Brown Engineering, a company owned by Lady Bird Johnson.
During the final test demonstration to select one design from various submissions, his was the only one that worked. Thus, his design won the NASA Contract.
His overall concept and design of the Articulated Wheel System was considered brilliant. Each wheel appendage was mounted not underneath the vehicle, but was placed outside the body of the vehicle, and each was motorized. Wheels could work independently of the others. It was designed to negotiate crater ingress and egress. The other vehicles did not make it into or out of the test crater.
Our father, Eduardo San Juan, was a very positively-charged creative who enjoyed a healthy sense of humor.
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Bellis, Mary. "Who Is Eduardo San Juan, Designer of the Lunar Rover?" ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, thoughtco.com/eduardo-san-juan-and-moon-buggy-1991716. Bellis, Mary. (2023, April 5). Who Is Eduardo San Juan, Designer of the Lunar Rover? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/eduardo-san-juan-and-moon-buggy-1991716 Bellis, Mary. "Who Is Eduardo San Juan, Designer of the Lunar Rover?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/eduardo-san-juan-and-moon-buggy-1991716 (accessed June 7, 2023).