NASA astronauts who recently returned from a trip to the International Space Station joined representatives from across the country and the nation’s armed forces in the 56th Inaugural Parade. The NASA contingent included a next-generation lunar rover that astronauts will use for future exploration of the moon. The parade traveled down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington on Jan. 20 following swearing-in ceremonies for President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden.
Many of the participating astronauts — Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Eric Boe, mission specialists Donald Pettit, Steve Bowen, Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, Shane Kimbrough and Greg Chamitoff — flew on space shuttle Endeavour in November 2008 on the STS-126 mission.
Astronaut Mike Gernhardt drove the rover while Astronaut Rex Walheim road beside him.
The Lunar Electric Rover is a concept vehicle about the size of a pickup truck that NASA is evaluating for use when humans return to the moon. It can house two astronauts for as long as 14 days. The vehicle has many unique features, including the ability to move its six pairs of wheels in any combination of forward and sideways motions, enabling it to scramble over rough terrain.