“NASA Selects Three Teams to Develop Revolutionary Moon Buggies”

NASA has given three space companies the chance to design the next generation moon buggy — but only one design will go to space. Intuitive Machines, Lunar Outpost, and Venturi Astrolab are developing rugged vehicles intended for astronauts to drive around on the lunar surface, from which NASA may choose as early as next year. The three teams will now enter into a 12-month “feasibility phase” that will culminate in a preliminary design review. NASA declined to specify the dollar value of the awards, though Intuitive Machines said in a statement that it was awarded a $30 million contract. “With NASA’s Artemis campaign, we are building up the capabilities needed to establish a longer-term exploration and presence of the moon,” he said.

NASA has given the opportunity to three space companies to compete in designing the ultimate lunar rover. However, only one design will be chosen to actually travel to the moon. Intuitive Machines, Lunar Outpost, and Venturi Astrolab have been tasked with creating rugged vehicles that will allow astronauts to freely explore the lunar surface. The final decision will be made as early as next year.

The three teams will now embark on a 12-month “feasibility phase” that will culminate in a preliminary design review. During a press conference on Wednesday, NASA officials shared that there will be a subsequent competitive request for proposals, where the trio of companies will compete for a demonstration task order.

Once the preliminary design review is complete, a final awardee will be chosen. This company will not only be responsible for designing the Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV), but also for launching and landing it on the moon, prior to the Artemis V mission in 2029.

NASA has not disclosed the exact dollar value of the awards, but Intuitive Machines has stated that it received a $30 million contract. The total potential value of all the task orders over the next 13 years is an impressive $4.6 billion.

The three teams are not revealing many details about the specifications of their respective rovers, such as range and battery technology. However, NASA has made it clear that the LTV must have a lifespan of 10 years and be capable of carrying two suited astronauts.

Intuitive Machines is leading a team comprised of AVL, Boeing, Michelin, and Northrop Grumman. Lunar Outpost is heading the “Lunar Dawn” team with partners including Lockheed Martin, General Motors, Goodyear, and MDA Space. Astrolab is joined by Axiom Space and Odyssey Space Research.

These awards are just the latest in a series of private industry collaborations under NASA’s ambitious Artemis program, which aims to establish a permanent human presence on the moon. In order to fully explore the lunar surface, astronauts will need a reliable mode of transportation that can withstand the harsh environment of the lunar south pole, with extreme temperature swings and long nights.

“Think of it as a hybrid of the Apollo-style lunar rover that was driven by our astronauts and an unmanned mobile science platform,” explained NASA’s Johnson Space Center director Vanessa Wyche.

The lunar rovers will provide astronauts with tools to transport scientific equipment, gather samples from the surface, and expand their reach beyond the range of walking. According to NASA’s chief exploration scientist Jacob Bleacher, the LTV will also be remotely operated by humans when they are not on the moon, allowing for continuous exploration and future rendezvous with other astronaut crews upon their arrival.

“With NASA’s Artemis campaign, we are building up the capabilities needed to establish a longer-term exploration and presence of the moon,” said Bleacher. “Where it will go, there are no roads. Its mobility will fundamentally change our view of the moon.”

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Zara Khan

Zara Khan is a seasoned investigative journalist with a focus on social justice issues. She has won numerous awards for her groundbreaking reporting and has a reputation for fearlessly exposing wrongdoing.

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