Lockheed Martin and GM are building an electric Moon buggy that is very different from the Apollo era
Lockheed Martin and GM are building an electric Moon buggy that will travel ‘significantly farther’ than the one from the Apollo era
- Lockheed Martin and GM are creating an electric autonomous rover for NASA’s return to the moon
- The rover is still in the planning phase, but will have to travel the south pole of the moon
- Surface temperatures at the moon’s south pole can range from 260 degrees Fahrenheit during the day to negative 280 degrees Fahrenheit at night
- China is the only country so far to have placed a lander on the other side of the moon
As NASA tries to return to the moon in 2024, the US space agency has commissioned Lockheed Martin and General Motors to create a new electric, autonomous lunar rover.
The rover will use GM’s autonomous driving technology and allow it to go ‘significantly further’ than what the automaker was working on during the Apollo program some 50 years ago.
While the rover is still in the planning stages, both companies stressed that it is imperative that astronauts can traverse difficult terrains of the moon’s south pole, which could include some interesting discoveries, including water.
A concept of what the Lockheed Martin-GM rover might look like at the south pole of the moon
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE LUNAR SOUTH POOL?
The south pole of the moon is an interesting place for scientists and agencies planning manned missions to the moon.
This is because water ice has been found in shady areas in that region with craters that never get sunlight.
The edges of craters on the pole are exposed to almost constant sunlight, but the interior is in permanent darkness, in the shadow of sunlight for billions of years.
The water ice and volatile deposits are found in the cold traps that are shielded from sunlight.
There have been orbital observations of the region, including by NASA, India, Russia and China, with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mapping the entire region to aid future astronauts.
NASA plans to land the first woman and the next man in the Moon’s Antarctic region as part of the first manned landing since 1972.
They land in 2024, a year after a rover landed to take samples of the water ice and explore the terrain.
“ Surface mobility is critical to enable and support long-term exploration of the lunar surface, ” said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Space, in a statement. statement.
“These next-generation rovers will drastically expand the reach of astronauts as they conduct high-priority scientific research on the Moon that will ultimately affect humanity’s understanding of our place in the solar system.”
The surface temperatures at the south pole of the moon can vary widely.
They can reach as high as 260 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and as cold as 280 degrees Fahrenheit at night.
So far, China is the only country to have placed a lander on the other side of the moon.
GM’s history as a NASA contractor goes back to the Apollo program more than 50 years ago.
Not only did it work on the inertial guidance and navigation systems for the entire Apollo Moon program, but it also worked as a subcontractor for Boeing on the Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), which was used during the Apollo 15-17 missions.
“ General Motors made history by applying advanced technologies and engineering to support the Lunar Rover vehicle that drove the Apollo 15 astronauts on the moon, ” explains Alan Wexler, senior vice president of Innovation and Growth at General Motors.
Those rovers traveled just 4.7 miles from the landing site, but the new rover will travel around the moon’s cold, dark south pole, with its difficult terrain.
“By partnering with Lockheed Martin and their in-depth exploration expertise, we plan to re-support US astronauts on the Moon,” Wexler added.
The US space agency sent a message to companies earlier this year asking for a “ human-class rover that will expand the range of exploration ” for astronauts in the Artemis program.
An illustration of NASA astronauts at the south pole of the moon
The lander, he says, has room for at least two astronauts, along with a load of 1,102 pounds The edge.
The news comes just days after NASA said it will send a rover to the moon in 2023 to explore potential landing sites for a manned Artemis mission.
It will send the $ 433.5 million (£ 306 million) rover dubbed VIPER to explore the Moon’s South Pole, where it will seek water ice and other resources that can be harvested by humans and explore the terrain for a long time. future manned mission.
NASA will land the first woman and the next man on the moon in 2024 as part of the Artemis mission
Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo and the goddess of the moon in Greek mythology.
NASA has chosen her to personify her path back to the moon, where astronauts will return to the lunar surface by 2024 – including the first woman and the next man.
Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that enable human exploration to the Moon and Mars.
Artemis 1 will be the first integrated flight test of NASA’s deep space exploration system: the Orion spacecraft, the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the ground systems at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Artemis 1 will be an unmanned flight that will provide a foundation for human exploration of deep space, demonstrating our dedication and ability to extend human existence to the moon and beyond.
During this flight, the spacecraft will launch on the world’s most powerful rocket and fly further than any spacecraft built for humans has ever flown.
It will travel 280,000 miles (450,600 km) from Earth, thousands of miles beyond the Moon in the course of a mission lasting about three weeks.
Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that enable human exploration to the Moon and Mars. This image explains the different stages of the mission
The Orion will stay in space longer than any other spaceship without docking at a space station and return home faster and hotter than ever before.
With this first exploration mission, NASA is leading the next steps of human exploration in deep space, where astronauts will build and begin testing the systems near the moon needed for lunar surface missions and exploration to other destinations further from Earth, including Mars.
They take the crew on a different route and test Orion’s critical systems with people on board.
The SLS missile will go from an initial configuration capable of sending more than 26 tons to the moon, to a final configuration capable of sending at least 45 tons.
Together, Orion, SLS and Kennedy’s ground systems will be able to meet the most challenging crew and cargo mission needs in deep space.
Ultimately, NASA is aiming to establish a sustainable human presence on the moon by 2028 as a result of the Artemis mission.
The space agency hopes this colony will make new scientific discoveries, demonstrate new technological advancements, and lay the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy.