NASA Picks 3 Companies to Develop New Artemis Moon Rover Designs

By Jace Dela Cruz

Apr 04, 2024 01:59 AM EDT

NASA has awarded contracts to Intuitive Machines, Lunar Outpost, and Venturi Astrolab to develop a rover for Artemis astronauts that will conduct scientific research on the moon and eventually on Mars. 

NASA Selects Companies to Advance Moon Mobility for Artemis Missions

(Photo : NASA)

NASA Picks 3 Space Companies to Design the Next Moon Rover

NASA said on Wednesday that the three companies were chosen to create designs for a lunar terrain vehicle (LTV) under a contract worth up to $4.6 billion. These awards signify NASA's move towards enhancing capabilities for lunar exploration.

The space agency plans to utilize the expertise of private companies to support scientific endeavors and long-term human exploration on the moon. 

NASA plans to pick one from the three companies to conduct a test run for its LTV before the crew arrives for the Artemis 5 mission. The agency intends to use the rover for crewed operations during the Artemis 5 mission, which is scheduled for 2029.

Each provider will start with a feasibility task order for a year-long study to develop a system that meets NASA's requirements, followed by a request for a task order proposal for a demonstration mission to validate the rover's performance and safety ahead of Artemis 5.

"We look forward to the development of the Artemis generation lunar exploration vehicle to help us advance what we learn at the Moon," Vanessa Wyche, director of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, said in a statement.

"This vehicle will greatly increase our astronauts' ability to explore and conduct science on the lunar surface while also serving as a science platform between crewed missions," she added.

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The Moon Rover of NASA

According to NASA, the winning LTV will be "able to handle the extreme conditions at the Moon's South Pole and will feature advanced technologies for power management, autonomous driving, and state of the art communications and navigation systems." 

NASA said the rover will enable astronauts to explore, transport scientific equipment, and collect lunar surface samples "much farther than they could on foot, enabling increased science returns."

Through the Artemis program, NASA aims to send astronauts, including the first woman and the first person of color, to explore the moon for scientific discovery and to build the foundation for crewed missions to Mars.  

READ MORE: NASA Aims to Put Humanoid Robots in Space to Do Dangerous Jobs

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