These three companies are developing NASA’s new lunar vehicle

NASA has big plans for the moon – not only to send humans back to the moon for the first time in more than 50 years, but also to have them investigate the fascinating south polar region, where water is thought to be available. The plan is that the astronauts will not only visit for a day or two, but will also have them stay on the moon for weeks, exploring the surrounding area. And to explore, they can’t just walk — they need a new moon chariot.

Today, Wednesday, April 3, NASA announced three companies developing its new lunar vehicle: Intuitive Machines, Lunar Outpost, and Venturi Astrolab. They will each develop a lunar terrain vehicle (LTV) that can carry astronauts from landing sites across the lunar surface, allowing them to reach further and cover more areas of interest.

NASA’s Lunar Terrain Vehicle concept design by an artist. NASA

“We look forward to the development of the Artemis generation of lunar exploration vehicles to help us advance what we learn on the Moon,” said Vanessa Wyche, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, in a statement. statement. “This vehicle will greatly enhance our astronauts’ ability to explore and conduct science on the lunar surface while serving as a science platform between manned missions.”

Intuitive Machines already proved its capabilities on the moon with the historic landing of the Odysseus craft on the moon earlier this year – despite the challenges of that landing – and together with Astrolabe and Lunar Outpost, they have submitted a concept to NASA for LTV, which will now be studied over the next year.

LTV needs to overcome the extreme cold temperatures at the moon’s south pole, as well as environmental challenges such as the fine, dusty material called regolith, which covers the moon. The lunar surface has many craters and rocks, so any vehicle wishing to traverse it must be able to handle slopes and slippery conditions. The hope is that a suitable vehicle can be developed for use in the Artemis V mission and beyond in the 2030s.

“We will use LTV to travel to locations we might not be able to reach on foot, thereby enhancing our ability to explore and make new scientific discoveries,” said Jacob Bleacher, chief exploration scientist in the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters . in Washington. “With the crewed Artemis mission, and during remote operations when there is no crew on the surface, we are enabling science and discovery on the Moon all year round.”

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