Rusk Company Makes NASA Moon Rovers - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

02/19/08-Longview

Rusk Company Makes NASA Moon Rovers

     An east Texas company is being called upon to contribute to the space program.  NASA selected an east Texas family business to build 2 lunar rovers, that will be instrumental in building a space station on the moon.

  "Wow , joy pure joy I was so excited" said Racefab co-owner Marty Jackson.

    The Jackson family builds racecar's and off-road racers.  Building them so well, they attracted the attention of NASA.

    "When they did contact me it was to build the rovers I knew right away what they were wanting" Marty says.

     NASA's Orion moon project, to build a space station on the lunar surface, needed vehicles, and they came to the Jacksons family run Racefab business.

    "The lunar rover chassis is identical in construction to the sports cars and off-road race cars that we build" says Joe Jackson.

    There were 28 companies competing to build the two vehicles for NASA, and the Jacksons were selected, and its not everyday that you get to build something that's going to go on the lunar surface.

   "Its gonna be great to watch the astronauts using something we built here , just to share it with my family and friends" says youngest son Jason Jackson.

      NASA wanted a durable electric all terrain rover, and Racefab's off-road racers were just the ticket. And their expertise was modifying basic designs.

    "The moon sees temperatures from negative 250 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and the expansion of hydraulic fluids in this environment is real hard to shock absorbers" says physicist Jefferson Jackson.

     The four Jacksons are humbled by the experience.

   "Just never dreamt that it would be our job to build something that's going to the moon, its the chance of a lifetime" Marty says.

    "I guess I'll be a little jealous that I'm not there on the moon to actually drive it" Jason says.

They've built racers for Carroll Shelby and the Andretti team, but nothing compares to this.

  "There's no one going to take this away from us" Jefferson says.

   "That was just like a dream come true" says Joe.

   And they will print their name on the rovers.

   "Racefab is going to the moon, and it will have our signature on there" said Marty.

    The Jacksons hope to have both rovers ready for NASA in a month, and NASA is expected to beiing testing them by summer.

     The Orion space project is scheduled for 2020.

  Bob Hallmark reporting/bhallmark@kltv.com .

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