Lockheed to help develop next-generation moon rovers

The rovers will be developed for NASA’s Artemis program, which will begin with moon orbits and eventually moon landings in coming years. (Courtesy Lockheed Martin)

Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin has partnered with General Motors to develop the next generation of lunar vehicles for NASA’s future missions to the moon.

The rovers will be developed for NASA’s Artemis program, which will begin with moon orbits and eventually moon landings in coming years.

The electric Lunar Terrain Vehicle that Lockheed and GM will develop will be designed to go farther and faster than the Apollo Mission buggies.

Lockheed, which has a 50-year history of working with NASA on human and robotic spacecraft, will lead the development 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 space science investigation on the moon that will ultimately impact humanity’s understanding of our place in the solar system,” said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space.

The next-generation rovers will use GM’s autonomous driving technology, which can facilitate safer and more efficient operations on the moon.

General Motors technology and engineering also supported the Lunar Rover Vehicle that the Apollo 15 astronauts drove on the moon in 1971. It also manufactured the inertial guidance and navigation systems used for the entire Apollo moon program.

Unlike the Apollo rovers, which only traveled less than 5 miles from the landing site, the next-generation lunar vehicles are being designed to traverse significantly farther distances for the first excursions to the moon’s South Pole, where it is cold and dark with more rugged terrain.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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