“Exciting Eclipse Day on TechCrunch Space!”

Hello and welcome back to TechCrunch Space. Happy Eclipse Day for everyone celebrating! You also can send a note to the whole TechCrunch crew at tips@techcrunch.com. NASA has given three space companies the chance to design the next-generation moon buggy — but only one design will go to space. Footage obtained by TechCrunch shows the catastrophic ending that Astra’s Rocket 3.0 suffered during prelaunch testing in March 2020.

Hello and welcome back to TechCrunch Space. Happy Eclipse Day for everyone celebrating! I’m fortunate to be living in a part of the country that’s in the path of totality, so I’ll be away from my desk for much of today, soaking it all in.

Want to reach out with a tip? Email Aria at aria.techcrunch@gmail.com or send me a message on Signal at 512-937-3988. You also can send a note to the whole TechCrunch crew at tips@techcrunch.com. For more secure communications, click here to contact us, which includes SecureDrop instructions and links to encrypted messaging apps.

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. At that point, there will be a subsequent competitive request for proposals, where the trio of companies will compete for a demonstration task order. At that point, a final awardee will be selected. The chosen company will be responsible not only for designing the lunar terrain vehicle (LTV) but also for launching and landing it on the moon prior to the Artemis V mission, which is currently slated for no earlier than 2029.

Footage obtained by TechCrunch shows the catastrophic ending that Astra’s Rocket 3.0 suffered during prelaunch testing in March 2020. The explosion, which occurred at Alaska’s Pacific Spaceport Complex, was simply reported as an “anomaly” at the time, an industry term for pretty much any issue that deviates from the expected outcome.

Blue Origin announced the crew of the next New Shepard launch — and 90-year-old Ed Dwight is among the names listed. I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t recognize the name, but this story over at GeekWire helped fill in the missing pieces to his story and its significance to the history of human spaceflight.

Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space on April 12, 1961. From NASA: “His vehicle, Vostok 1 circled Earth at a speed of 27,400 kilometers per hour with the flight lasting 108 minutes. Vostok’s reentry was controlled by a computer. Unlike the early U.S. human spaceflight programs, Gagarin did not land inside of capsule. Instead, he ejected from the spacecraft and landed by parachute.”

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Ava Patel

Ava Patel is a cultural critic and commentator with a focus on literature and the arts. She is known for her thought-provoking essays and reviews, and has a talent for bringing new and diverse voices to the forefront of the cultural conversation.

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