NASA Goes to the Car Industry to Build Next Lunar Rover

It was in 1969 when the world witnessed the first manned mission to the moon. And although NASA has made significant scientific breakthroughs ever since, the world is still waiting for the time when we will be able to experience another of our kind going to the moon for the second time. Fortunately, for the current generations, this situation is not going to last very long. With the launch of NASA’s Artemis Lunar Exploration Program in 2017, NASA aims to put mankind on the moon for the second time by 2024. And to accomplish this goal, NASA has turned to American vehicle companies for ideas.

For this purpose NASA published two individual Requests for Information (RFI),  asking the car industry to come up with ideas for the development of lunar rovers for the humans and the robotic mobility systems. This will encourage the vehicle and robotic industries to invest in the Research and Development of lunar transportation. With this approach, NASA also aims to promote the market formation of lunar transportation.

With the help of robotic mobility systems, NASA will be able to move instruments from one place to another on the lunar surface. These mobility systems will also aid in conducting consequential scientific researches through the vast surface of the moon. This will also include areas that are beyond the limits of the human. In words od Steve Clark who works as the Deputy Associate Administrator for exploration as well as the Science Mission Directorate at the NASA Headquarters located in Washington;

“As we return to the Moon with Artemis, we’re seeking new and innovative approaches that allow us to operate robotically anywhere on the lunar surface and explore more of our nearest neighbor than ever before. We are turning to industry to offer us exciting approaches to leverage existing systems here on Earth—including law enforcement, military, or recreational vehicles—that could be modified for use in space to enhance our mobility architecture.”

Along with the car industry, NASA strives to build a new lunar terrain vehicle or LTV that will enable the second man and the first women on the moon to explore and carry out experiments on the Lunar South Pole; the part of the moon that remains unexplored by humans.

“The most we can expect crew to walk while wearing their spacesuits is about a half-mile,” said Marshall Smith, director of human lunar exploration programs in the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. “If we can place a rover near a landing site before crew arrives, the potential for scientific return on those first missions will grow exponentially.”

Smith further said,

“We also want to hear from industry leaders in all-terrain vehicles, electric vehicles, and more—this is not exclusive to the space industry,”. He further goes on saying, “We want our rovers on the Moon to draw on, and spur, innovations in electric vehicle energy storage and management, autonomous driving, and extreme environmental resistance.”

Clarke added, “Companies of all sizes are already partnering with us to deliver payloads to the lunar surface through our Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative. We look forward to what industry shares with us as we consider early ideas on how humanity will explore the Moon robotically and with crew in the coming years.”

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