NASA picks 3 teams to design the next generation of moon buggy

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NASA has fixed 3 abstraction companies nan chance to creation nan adjacent procreation satellite buggy — but only 1 creation will spell to space. Intuitive Machines, Lunar Outpost, and Venturi Astrolab are processing rugged vehicles intended for astronauts to thrust astir connected nan lunar surface, from which NASA whitethorn take arsenic early arsenic adjacent year.

The 3 teams will now participate into a 12-month “feasibility phase” that will culminate successful a preliminary creation review. At that point, location will beryllium a consequent competitory petition for proposals, wherever nan trio of companies will compete for a objection task order, NASA officials explained during a property convention connected Wednesday.

At that point, a last awardee will beryllium selected. The chosen institution will beryllium responsible not only for designing nan LTV but for launching and landing it connected nan satellite anterior to nan Artemis V mission, which is presently slated for nary earlier than 2029.

NASA declined to specify nan dollar worth of nan awards, though Intuitive Machines said successful a connection that it was awarded a $30 cardinal contract. The full imaginable worth of each nan task orders complete nan adjacent 13 years is $4.6 billion.

The 3 teams are besides keeping specifications, for illustration scope aliases artillery technology, adjacent to nan chest, though NASA specified that nan rover would person to person an unthinkable 10-year lifespan and beryllium tin of carrying 2 suited astronauts.

Intuitive Machines is starring a squad that includes AVL, Boeing, Michelin, and Northrop Grumman; Lunar Outpost is starring nan “Lunar Dawn” squad that includes Lockheed Martin, General Motors, Goodyear and MDA Space; and Astrolab is joined by Axiom Space and Odyssey Space Research.

NASA Lunar Terrain Vehicle

NASA Lunar Terrain Vehicle

The awards are nan latest to beryllium doled retired to backstage manufacture nether nan agency’s eager Artemis program, which seeks to yet found a imperishable quality beingness connected nan moon. But successful bid to genuinely research nan surface, astronauts will request thing to get astir — and it will request to withstand nan harsh situation of nan lunar southbound pole, which is known for somesthesia utmost swings and very agelong nights.

“Think of it arsenic a hybrid of nan Apollo-style lunar rover that was driven by our astronauts and an uncrewed mobile subject platform,” NASA’s Johnson Space Center head Vanessa Wyche said.

With nan vehicles, astronauts will beryllium capable to carrier technological equipment, cod samples from nan aboveground and recreation farther than connected foot, Jacob Bleacher, NASA’s main exploration scientist, said. When astronauts are not connected nan moon, humans will beryllium capable to remotely run nan LTV, truthful it tin proceed to research nan region and moreover meet caller astronaut crews erstwhile they get connected nan surface.

“With NASA’s Artemis campaign, we are building up nan capabilities needed to found a longer-term exploration and beingness of nan moon,” he said. “Where it will go, location are nary roads. Its mobility will fundamentally alteration our position of nan moon.”