Lockheed Martin and General Motors Co. have been contracted by NASA to build the next generation of lunar vehicles to transport astronauts on the surface of the Moon.
NASA’s Artemis program is sending humans back to the Moon where they will explore and conduct scientific experiments using a variety of 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 NASA’s Artemis program.
To support NASA’s mission, the GM and Lockheed Martin will develop a unique vehicle with innovative capabilities, drawing on their unparalleled engineering, performance, technology and reliability legacies. The result may allow astronauts to explore the lunar surface in unprecedented fashion 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, Lockheed Martin Space, whose group will lead the team. “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 investigation on the Moon that will ultimately impact humanity’s understanding of our place in the solar system.”
GM’s recent push to electric vehicles makes it a leader in battery-electric technologies and propulsion systems as well as autonomous technology that will facilitate efficient operations on the Moon.
“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 General Motors. “Working together with Lockheed Martin and their deep-space exploration expertise, we plan to support American astronauts on the Moon once again.”
GM manufactured, tested and integrated the inertial guidance and navigation systems for the entire Apollo Moon program, including Apollo 11 and the first human landing in 1969. GM also helped develop the electric Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), including the chassis and wheels for the LRV that was used on Apollo’s 15-17 missions in 1971-72.
Unlike the Apollo rovers that only traveled 4.7 miles (7.6 kilometers) from the landing site, the next-generation lunar vehicles are being designed to traverse significantly farther distances to support the first excursions of the Moon’s south pole, where it is cold and dark with more rugged terrain.
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.