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Image: Lunar rover prototype
NASA EDGE
NASA's Small Pressurized Rover is a lunar rover prototype that was successfully tested in the Arizona desert in October.
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updated 1/8/2009 7:01:07 PM ET 2009-01-09T00:01:07

Before it gets to space, a moon buggy will make history by being the first to boogie along an inaugural parade.

NASA will participate in President-elect Barack Obama's inaugural parade with the crew of the latest shuttle mission and a small pressurized rover that is the current design for a mission to the moon in about 12 years. It will be driven by astronaut Michael Gernhardt.

While NASA has been part of past inaugural parades, it has never used a lunar rover as its representative before, agency spokesman David Mould said Thursday.

NASA hasn't chosen a final rover design yet, but the one in the parade is the leading prototype at the moment, succeeding wildly on a three-day desert trek in Arizona in October. It is different from the Apollo era open top rovers. It is sealed like a car, allowing two astronauts to sit in it without wearing bulky spacesuits.

The 12-wheeled vehicle, which tops out around 6 mph, will then go on display for Washington media the next day, spokeswoman Ashley Edwards said.

Also marching in the parade will be the crew of Endeavour: Chris Ferguson, Eric Boe, Donald Petit, Steve Bowen, Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, Shane Kimbrough and Greg Chamitoff.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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