Lockheed Martin and General Motors to develop lunar rovers for NASA
Lockheed Martin and General Motors have announced a new joint venture to develop the next-generation lunar rovers, also known as Lunar Terrain Vehicles (LTVs), for NASA astronauts to explore the Moon as part of the US space agency’s Artemis programme.
The Artemis programme aims to land the first American woman and first American person of colour on the Moon by 2024 where they will explore the lunar surface using LTVs, and conduct scientific experiments, ahead of a future manned mission to Mars.
The LTV is the first of many types of surface mobility vehicles needed for the Artemis programme.
Going the distance
Unlike the Apollo rovers that only travelled 7.6km from the landing site, Lockheed Martin and General Motors are developing the next-generation LTVs 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 LTVs to prepare for human landings, provide commercial payload services, and enhance the range and utility of scientific payloads and experiments.
Working in close collaboration with NASA, Lockheed Martin and General Motors will now develop a unique LTV with innovative capabilities, drawing on their exceptional engineering, performance, technology and reliability legacies.
The aim is to allow the NASA astronauts to explore the lunar surface in an unprecedented manner and support discovery in areas on the Moon where humans have never gone before.
In addition to being able to travel for large distances on the lunar surface, the LTVs that Lockheed Martin and General Motors are working on will also will also be driver optional.
Autonomous, self-driving systems would enable the LTV to operate with or without humans onboard, while paving the way for future human missions, commercial payload services and enhanced scientific utility.
Lockheed Martin offers NASA unique experience and capabilities in deep-space exploration.
The Bethesda, Maryland-headquartered company has built spacecraft and systems that have gone to every planet in the Solar System, been on every NASA mission to Mars, including building 11 of the agency’s Mars spacecraft, and played major roles on the space shuttle programme and International Space Station power systems.
Meanwhile, General Motors also has a proven history of supporting NASA and working within the space industry.
The company manufactured, tested and integrated the inertial guidance and navigation systems for the entire Apollo Moon programme, including Apollo 11 and the first human landing on the Moon in 1969.
General Motors also helped develop the electric Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), including the chassis and wheels for the LRV that was used on the Apollo’s 15-17 missions.
General Motors is a leader in electric battery technologies and propulsion systems that are central to its multi-brand, multi-segment electric vehicle strategy.
As such, General Motors will leverage its electric vehicle autonomous technology capabilities for the Artemis programme’s LTV development.