A prototype lunar rover once tested by NASA will be available for sale at an online auction this month, with an estimated price of $125,000 to $150,000.
The early prototype, known in official NASA documents as the “Brown LSSM,” does not resemble the final Lunar Rover, which served the crews of Apollo 15, 16 and 17 on the surface of the Moon.
Its authenticity has been verified by former NASA engineer Otha H. Vaughan, Jr., who worked on the team of famous German-American rocket scientist Wernher von Braun.
“Mr. Vaughn states that the team actually flew the prototype on NASA’s KC-135 Zero G aircraft ‘to get some idea of how she would bounce with rubber tires and things like that,’” the auction house said.
The vehicle is in rather bad shape, and has spent an unknown amount of time sitting in an Alabama backyard after it was reportedly purchased at a NASA auction.
The prototype was spotted by a U.S. Air Force historian who reported the find to NASA, which, according to papers included in the sale, made at least one short-lived attempt to get it back.
It was later sent to the scrapyard of current owner Johnny Worley, who recognized its value and decided to preserve it.
Not much is left of this early lunar rover prototype …
… but it is a rare chance to own an actual piece of the Apollo program.
The vehicle was built by Brown Engineering and reportedly tested in NASA’s
KC-135 “vomit comet” reduced-gravity aircraft.