Aerospace prime Northrop Grumman is leading a team that includes AVL, Intuitive Machines, Lunar Outpost and Michelin to design a vehicle to carry Artemis astronauts around the Moon. The Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV) will be crucial to the exploration of the lunar South Pole region, a region that no human has ever visited before.
Northrop will lead systems integration and spacecraft design, and the rest of the team brings together a wide range of capabilities that pinpoint the LTV design areas they will focus on: AVL of vehicle powertrains and advanced driver assistance and autonomous systems. develops and tests; Intuitive machines have experience with payload delivery with their Nova-D spacecraft; Lunar Outpost is developing off-world unmanned rovers; And the multinational French company Michelin has worked with NASA on tires for previous lunar rovers.
The team will almost certainly submit the design as part of an upcoming request for proposals from NASA, similar to the process used by the agency to select the lunar lander under the Human Landing System contract. Although NASA has yet to release an RFP for LTV, Northrop Grumman is expecting it early next year, a spokesperson told Nerdshala.
But even though contract solicitations don’t exist yet, the space agency has begun requesting information from industry to inform development of the vehicle. In documents related to the project, NASA provided some details of what it could look for in the winning bid: a vehicle that could travel up to 20 kilometers on the lunar surface without needing a recharge; which could potentially survive an extended lunar night; And which is capable of transporting at least 800 kgs.
NASA said it anticipates launching the vehicle around 2027, which suggests it will be sent to the Moon only after the Artemis program is up and running. Last week, NASA representatives confirmed that the first crewed mission under the program – which aims to return humans to the Moon for the first time in decades – will be pushed back to 2025.