May 26, 2021

MoonVehicle400x275Lockheed Martin and General Motors Co. have announced teaming up to develop the next generation of lunar vehicles to transport astronauts on the surface of the Moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program. Artemis is sending humans back to the Moon, where they will explore and conduct scientific experiments with several different rovers. NASA sought industry approaches to develop a Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV) that will enable astronauts to explore the lunar surface farther than ever before. The LTV is the first of many types of surface mobility vehicles needed for Artemis, the companies said in a statement.

Lockheed Martin and GM are expected to develop a unique vehicle with innovative capabilities, drawing on engineering, performance, technology and reliability legacies, they said. The result may allow astronauts to explore the lunar surface and support discovery in places where humans have never gone before. 

“This alliance brings together powerhouse innovation from both companies to make a transformative class of vehicles,” said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space. “Surface mobility is critical to enable and sustain long-term exploration of the lunar surface. These next-generation rovers will dramatically extend the range of astronauts as they perform high-priority science investigations on the Moon that will ultimately impact humanity’s understanding of our place in the solar system.”

GM is developing battery-electric technologies and propulsion systems central to its electric vehicle strategy, as well as autonomous technology to help facilitate safer and more efficient operations on the Moon.

NASA Astronauts Lunar South Pole

“General Motors made history by applying advanced technologies and engineering to support the Lunar Rover Vehicle that the Apollo 15 astronauts drove on the Moon,” said Alan Wexler, senior vice president of innovation and growth at GM. “Working together with Lockheed Martin and their deep-space exploration expertise, we plan to support American astronauts on the Moon once again.”

GM helped manufacture, test and integrate the inertial guidance and navigation systems for the Apollo Moon program, including Apollo 11 and the first human landing in 1969. GM also helped develop the electric Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle, including the chassis and wheels for the LRV that was used on the Apollo 15-17 missions. Unlike the rovers that only traveled 4.7 miles from the landing site, the next-generation vehicles are being designed to traverse significantly farther distances to support the first excursions to the Moon’s south pole, where it is cold and dark with more rugged terrain. 

The companies said autonomous, self-driving systems will allow the rovers to prepare for human landings, provide commercial payload services, and enhance the range and  utility of scientific payloads and experiments.

More information is available here, and you can also watch the press conference about the announcement.

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