Last week, Elon Musk’s SpaceX successfully launched Falcon Heavy with one giant PR stunt: a Tesla Roadster onboard that’s not floating in orbit high above the Earth.
As neat as it is—and it really is pretty cool—General Motors has been there and done that. Recall, GM actually built and designed the lunar rover for NASA in 1971. Not only that, but the rover was actually all-electric with four electric motors, each producing 0.25 horsepower; it could go 8.7 mph and it offered 4.6 cubic feet of cargo space. Even the range wasn’t too shabby by today’s standards. The lunar rover could go 57 miles before needing a recharge.
GM’s relationship with space doesn’t stop there, either. In 2010, GM built Robonaut 2, a robotic humanoid astronaut capable of handling the most delicate tasks in space in the most dangerous environments. Robonaut 2 left Earth in 2011 on Space Shuttle Discovery. Destination? The International Space Station.
A more down-to-Earth space-age application of GM’s technology is the RoboGlove. GM and NASA developed the glove to add strength and reduce fatigue on humans while performing exerting tasks.
Moon landings, robotic astronauts and more, GM’s fascination with space largely predates Musk’s ambitious endeavors.