NASA awards contracts to three companies for lunar vehicle design

NASA has recently awarded contracts to three companies – Intuitive Machines, Lunar Outpost, and Venturi Astrolab – to develop a lunar terrain vehicle for the upcoming Artemis missions. The goal is to have the vehicle operational by 2030 in time for the Artemis V crew.

The companies will be conducting a year-long feasibility study to create a system that meets NASA’s strict requirements. Intuitive Machines, in particular, received a $30 million contract for this phase of the project. Following the feasibility study, only one of the companies will be selected to receive the subsequent award for a demonstration mission.

The total value of the contract program for the lunar terrain vehicle is an impressive $4.6 billion. NASA has outlined specific requirements for the vehicles, including the ability to withstand extreme temperatures, have a robotic arm, and possess semi-autonomous driving capabilities.

Each of the companies has released details about their respective lunar terrain vehicles, with names like RACER and FLEX rover. The winning company will also have the unique opportunity to deploy their vehicle commercially on the moon.

This marks the first crewed moon landing in over five decades, with global interest remaining high since the historic 1969 landing. The development of these lunar terrain vehicles is a crucial step towards achieving NASA’s goal of returning humans to the moon and ultimately sending astronauts to Mars.

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