by Vincent Meens
Lunokhod 2 was brougth on the Moon by Luna 21 in January 1973 in LeMonnier crater. It operated for about 4 months, covered 37 km of terrain including hilly upland areas and rilles, and sent back 86 panoramic images and over 80,000 TV pictures. Many mechanical tests of the surface, laser ranging measurements, and other experiments were completed during this time. On June 4 it was announced that the program was completed, leading to speculation that the vehicle probably failed in mid-May or could not be revived after the lunar night.
It was then that I made a first 1/10 model of the Lunokhod 2 mainly out of cardboard, balsa wood and needles. At this time I didn't have the skill of many years of space modelling but the model however was quite detailled. I remember going to the Paris Air Show where a full scale mockup was exhibited and taking tens of photographs to complete my model (no digital in the 70's). Unfortunatly the model did not survive the assault of time and 30 years later I decided to build another one.
This time Internet provided me with tons of new information. I was able to make very detailled blueprints and built an accurate model of Lunokhod 2. I statted with cardboard but rapidly changed to styrene. The only unknown was the presence of thermal blankets applied onto the spacecraft. This was probably the case but no photographs were ever released of Lunokhod 2 as it would appear on the Moon. I then decided to built it as it appeared during the final construction phase i.e. bright aluminium instead of white for the first model. The first pictures of Lunokhod 2 with its thermal blankets on were shown just a couple of years after I completed my model in a documentary for which I helped writing the commentary: Tank on the Moon. It was then too late to redo the model.
In a way the model is more detailled as no cable, switch or motors would be visible on the Moon. I provided all information and blueprints on the Internet (see where all construction phases are shown). One US colleague, Ben Guenther used them to built a 1/24 model. The model was completed in 2005 and took 4 and a half years to be done.
Image: Rear view
Image: Original (1973) model
Image: In action