Astronaut Charlie Duke drives his first EV on earth
Apollo 16 Lunar Module pilot Charlie Duke was one of just six people to drive the electric Lunar Rover on the moon and now, 50 years later, he has finally driven an EV on Planet Earth.
The 85-year-old astronaut and former U.S. Air Force officer played a key role in NASA’s Apollo missions even before setting foot on the lunar surface. During the Apollo 11 landing, it was Duke who talked Neil Armstrong through the final stages before he touched down on the moon in 1969.
In 1972 Duke became the tenth person to land on the moon and spent over 70 hours exploring its surface with fellow astronaut John Young in the Lunar Roving Vehicle or moon buggy. Duke’s mission was a giant leap for electric vehicles, he says.
“In my view the rover was the first real reliable, rugged and dependable electric car. It had two batteries and about 100amp hours of power. Each wheel had its own independent suspension and the tyres were made out of wire, which I thought was crazy at first. But somebody had an ingenious idea because wire tires would dig into the dust which gave you really good traction.”
“Before the rover came, 400 meters was probably the limit of walking. But with the rover we could go seven kilometers from the landing site and that helped to revolutionize lunar exploration as we got samples from all these places on the extremes,” he adds.
Five decades on Porsche put Duke behind the wheel of the rather more powerful Taycan Turbo S at a Texas airfield. “It’s an amazing car, and the technology in the Taycan is an order of magnitude over our rover,” he says.
General Duke we salute you.