JSC Rover to Join Inaugural Parade and Crabwalk

Editor's update: According to JSC PAO the rover will be at the very end of the parade. Along the way it will demonstrate its various control features including the ever popular "crab walk". Astronauts from the STS-126 crew as well as other astronauts and NASA personnel will walk alongside the rover. The rover will be driven by astronaut Mike Gernhardt. The two space suits attached to the back end of the rover will be occupied by a spacesuit technician and astronaut Rex Walheim. When the rover gets to the reviewing stand it will stop, Walheim will disconnect himself from the rover, step down, hold up an American flag and salute President Obama.

The rover will be shipped to Washington DC by truck. I am awaiting cost numbers from NASA for the rover, NASA personnel (including the technicians who support the rover) and other costs associated with NASA's participation - as well as who is footing the bill. I suspect (but do not have any numbers) that when is all said and done, the cost will be cheaper than some of the silly extravaganzas that are regularly featured in the parade. A media day will be held at NASA HQ on 21 January from 1:30 to 3:00 featuring the rover.

Earlier posts

Editor's 18 Dec note: NASA JSC's pressurized rover concept vehicle with a spacesuited occupant will be part of the Inaugural parade according to NASA sources. According to an internal email: "The rover is going to be programmed to turn 90 degrees and "crab walk" in front of the podium, then a suited astronaut will get out and plant or carry a US flag. The rover will then be programmed to bow. 5 or so guys from our Branch have been invited to walk alongside the Rover."

Editor's 29 Dec update: Apparently this is not what will happen. For starters, parade participants are not allowed to stop in front of the Presidential reviewing stand. Moreover, this JSC plan was not approved by NASA HQ. Stay tuned.

Rover ready for a close-up - on the moon and for Obama, Houston Chornicle

"When the rover reaches President Barack Obama's box, Gernhardt, who is also the vehicle's project manager, will stop it, and astronaut Rex Walheim, one of two people in white spacesuits attached to the rear of the buggy, will step away. Carrying an American flag, he'll stride several paces toward Obama, halt and salute the new president, ending the parade. Said Walheim: "I hope he sees that NASA is looking forward, that we have some really exciting ideas on how to handle lunar exploration."

Editor's 10 Jan update: The last time I asked folks at NASA HQ on the 9th floor about this they told me that Armed Services Inaugural Committee parade rules specifically forbid anyone in the parade from stopping in front of the President's reviewing stand, much less getting out and walking toward the President. Nor had NASA HQ approved JSC's plans. As for stepping out and doing a Buzz Aldrin re-enanctment, this sort of "flags and footprints" stunt is more likely to turn off Obama folks than get them excited. What would really resonate with them is if a bunch of children hopped out of the rover or walked along side it. That said, if the JSC folks did what they seem to think they were doing, that would be a rather cool thing to see. But I am not someone who needs convincing as to the merit of continuing the VSE in a new Administration. Others are.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on January 12, 2009 3:00 PM.

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