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Moon Buggy Practice

By Norman Chan

Where the first Apollo astronauts played Moon.

Before we were ready to walk on the moon, astronauts had to simulate the experience of walking and driving on the lunar surface at home. So back in the early 1960's, NASA set up a 500 square-foot playground in Arizona, called the Cinder Lakes Crater Field. Though carefully controlled explosions (utilizing over 300 pounds of dynamite), NASA duplicated a 1:1 scale replica of the lunar region known as Mare Tranquillitatis--the anticipated landing site of Apollo 11. Astronauts were able to practice driving around with experimental lunar rovers and test equipment and protocols at the site that were essential to the successful manned missions to the moon. Unfortunately, not much is left of the site, which is accessible by the public. You can find many photos of the creation and use of Cinder Lakes in this PDF.