Born: 1921-10-04. Died: 2003-02-25.
Wikipedia Entry: Alexander Leonovich Kemurdzhian was a pioneering scientist, of Armenian heritage, in the space flight program of the Soviet Union. As chief engineer-designer at the VNIITransMash, he designed the first rovers to explore another world - the Soviet Lunokhod rovers - making him the founder of the space transport machine-engineering science. Kemurdzhian was born in 1921 in Vladikavkaz. He started studying in Bauman Moscow Higher Technical School (MHTS) in 1940. In 1942 he volunteered for the field army, and served from 1943 and until the end of World War II. Passed with fights a way from the Battle of Kursk to Pomerania.
After the war, Kemurdzhian returned to Bauman MHTS, graduating with honors from the transport faculty in 1951. He was directed on work to Leningrad in VNII-100 (Nowadays: VNIITransMash - All-Russian Scientific-Research Institute of the Transport Machine-Engineering). In 1959, Kemurdzhian became the chief of department of the new movement principles. He was engaged in creation of hovercraft "Object-760", which received the name of "polzolyot" (Russian: crawler-flyer). He became the chief engineer-designer in 1969 - the deputy director of VNIItransmash. In 1991 he became their chief researcher.
In 1963-1973 A.L.Kemurdzhian headed work on the design and creation of the self-propelled automatic chassis of Soviet Moon and Mars rovers. This included the Lunokhods that traversed the lunar service, and the Prop-M Rover for exploring Phobos. Devices designed under his leadership also yielded data on physicomechanical properties of soil of the Moon and Venus.
After the Chernobyl disaster, Kemurdzhian was tapped by Soviet officials as a special adviser on the development and use of remote-controlled vehicles working in unsafe areas.
Before his death, Kemurdzhian traveled to the United States to visit with engineers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab and compare ideas on unmanned planetary rovers.
The Lunokhod programme, and specifically Kemurdzhian's work on it, was the subject of the documentary film "Tank on the Moon" by French film maker Jean Afanassieff. The documentary premiered in the United States on the Science Channel on February 12, 2008.