Lockheed Martin and General Motors have partnered to develop a Moon rover for NASA’s Artemis program that could operate autonomously with or without humans aboard.
During NASA’s Apollo program, Boeing and General Motors developed the Lunar Roving Vehicle. The four-wheel battery-powered rover flew aboard Apollo 15, 16, and 17 enabling astronauts to explore further away from their lunar lander than ever before.
As the agency prepares to return humankind to the Moon with its Artemis program, there is once again a need for a vehicle that would enable astronauts to explore greater distances in shorter periods of time.
Lockheed Martin and a subsidiary of General Motors, GM Defense LLC partnered to answer a call from NASA challenging industry to develop a Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV).
Unlike the Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle that was only capable of traveling approximately 7.6-kilometers, the Lockheed-led team aims to develop a far more capable vehicle. The Lockheed-GM LTV will be capable of traversing “significantly farther distances” and operating in the extreme cold of a lunar night with temperatures plunging to approximately negative 170 degrees Celsius.
“Surface mobility is critical to enable and sustain long-term exploration of the lunar surface,” Rick Ambrose, Lockheed Martin Space executive vice president. “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.”
In addition to offering significantly more capability to astronauts, the rover will also be equipped with autonomous self-driving systems. This will allow NASA to utilise the rover for a broader range of activities including conducting scientific experiments autonomously and rendezvousing with different human landing missions as and when it’s needed.
The Lockheed-GM efforts to develop the Artemis LTV are currently running in parallel with NASA’s work to produce a request for proposals announcement. Once that announcement has been made, the Lockheed-GM team will have to submit their proposal as one of what will likely be several before possibly being selected to fly aboard an Artemis mission.