AMEC2007 Display and Firewall Installation

In July, the partially completed vehicle was put on display at the 7th Australian Mars Exploration Conference in Perth. Here a number of MSA members, NASA representatives and interested academics had a chance to examine and comment on the design, which was well received. An important topic of discussion was how to speed up construction, which is of course limited by a shortage of workers. This is problem is particularly acute in Western Australia at present because of an economic boom which is absorbing almost all available contractors and driving up prices. A number of suggestions were made, including employing itinerant contract workers, advertising broadly for volunteers and moving the machine to a TAFE technical college with student mechanics.

Following the return of the vehicle to the Byfield's factory after the conference, work slowed due to railway contract work there and illness on the part of the manager, which lasted several months. However, some work did continue at this time, especially on the interior steel framework for supporting cabinetry in the mid-cabin, and the airlock frame. An ideal steering column was purchased, with steering wheel. Some work was also done on the steering box mounting, which has been giving trouble and needed to be strengthened against possible bending. An almost new pair of bucket seats in excellent condition, was also obtained. In October, the aluminium firewall - an important component of the front cabin interior which forms the mount for the steering column, control pedals and levers as well as the base of the instrument console, was fitted. Next comes the floor sandwich, which is now worked out in detail and requires a weekend or two of dedicated labour to install.

The vehicle shell is examined by delegates at the AMEC 2007 conference.
Interior view of the firewall, custom bent and notched to fit the forward cabin structure.