NASA names companies to build first operational lunar rover since 1972 | Space News

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The US space agency selects Intuitive Machines, Lunar Outpost and Venturi Astrolab to design the lunar rover.

NASA has awarded contracts to three companies to build the first vehicles for missions to the Moon over fifty years.

Intuitive Machines, Lunar Outpost and Venturi Astrolab – based in Texas, Colorado and California, respectively – have been selected to design the lunar rover under a $4.6bn contract, NASA said on Wednesday.

NASA is preparing to select one of the companies that will test their Lunar Terrain Vehicle before the crew of Artemis 5 is planned for 2029.

The US space agency said the winning rover would be able to “address the challenges of the Moon’s south pole” and “have advanced propulsion, propulsion, and communication and navigation technology.”

“We look forward to the development of the Artemis lunar rover to help us advance our studies on the Moon,” said Vanessa Wyche, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

“This vehicle will enhance the ability of our astronauts to explore and conduct science on the surface of the moon while also serving as a science platform between the human missions.”

Jacob Bleacher, chief research scientist for NASA’s Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate, said the rover will allow astronauts to “travel to places we may not be able to reach on foot, increasing our exploration capabilities and discovering new scientific discoveries.”

“With the Artemis missions, and during remote missions when there are no ground crews, we are supporting science and discovery on the Moon throughout the year,” he said.

The Artemis mission, named after Apollo’s sister in Greek mythology, aims to return humans to the Moon for the first time since Apollo 17 in 1972.

Under this project, NASA plans to establish the first long-term presence of the Moon and lay the groundwork for future missions to Mars.

Artemis 3, the first operational mission, is expected to land in 2026.

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