NASA selects three companies to build next-generation lunar rover for Artemis astronauts

NASA has selected three companies named Intuitive Machines, Lunar Outpost, and Venturi Astrolab to build the next-generation lunar rover, called the lunar terrain vehicle (LTV), for Artemis astronauts.

Artist's illustration of Intuitive Machines' Moon RACER lunar terrain vehicle (LTV)
Artist’s illustration of Intuitive Machines’ Moon RACER lunar terrain vehicle (LTV). (Image credit: Intuitive Machines)

The agency announced it via a press briefing held at Johnson Space Center in Houston on Wednesday, April 3, 2024.

NASA’s Artemis astronauts will use the vehicle to explore the lunar south pole region and to conduct more science than ever before.

Jacob Bleacher, chief exploration scientist in the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said:

“We will use the LTV to travel to locations we might not otherwise be able to reach on foot, increasing our ability to explore and make new scientific discoveries.”

Artist's illustration of Lunar Outpost's Lunar Dawn lunar terrain vehicle (LTV)
Artist’s illustration of Lunar Outpost’s Lunar Dawn lunar terrain vehicle (LTV). (Image credit: Lunar Outpost)

According to NASA’s proposals, the above three companies will have to provide end-to-end services, meaning from the development of the vehicle to the delivery of the vehicle to the lunar surface, and then execute operations.

Each vehicle must be able to carry two suited astronauts, accommodate a robotic arm or mechanism to support science exploration, and survive the extreme conditions at the south pole region. NASA will ask the companies to conduct a successful test drive of the LTV on the lunar surface prior to a trip with astronauts.

NASA will award a maximum value of $4.6 billion to the companies for the end-to-end services of the next-generation lunar terrain vehicle (LTV).

Artist's illustration of Venturi Astrolab's FLEX lunar terrain vehicle (LTV)
Artist’s illustration of Venturi Astrolab’s FLEX lunar terrain vehicle (LTV). (Image credit: Astrolab)

The LTV is a next-generation rover because it functions like an Apollo-style lunar rover as well as a Mars-style uncrewed rover. Like an Apollo-style lunar rover that astronauts drove on the lunar surface back in the 1970s during the Apollo era, Artemis astronauts will be able to drive the lunar terrain vehicle (LTV), and like NASA’s Curiosity and Perseverance Mars rovers, which are currently operating on Mars, the lunar terrain vehicle (LTV) will be able to self-drive and communicate with the Earth’s control room directly. 

If all goes according to plan, then the crew of NASA’s Artemis 5 mission, which is scheduled to launch in 2029, will start to use the next-generation lunar terrain vehicle (LTV). However, prior to crew arrival, the rover will be used for uncrewed and commercial activities once it lands on the lunar surface.

NASA’s Artemis program timeline

NASA will send astronauts and establish a long-term presence on the lunar surface in the late 2020s, again after the 1970s, through its advanced human exploration missions called the Artemis program.

NASA’s Artemis program is a series of complex missions that will enable human exploration on the Moon as well as Mars

Artemis 1, the first mission under the Artemis program, was launched on November 16, 2022. It was an uncrewed test flight around the moon (lunar flyby), and the spacecraft of the Artemis 1 mission, named Orion, splashed down successfully on December 11, 2022.

Artemis 2, the second mission under the Artemis program, is scheduled to launch in September 2025. It will be a crewed flight around the moon (lunar flyby). The mission will carry 4 astronauts.

Artemis 3, the third mission under the Artemis program, is scheduled to launch in September 2026. Through this mission, astronauts will land on the lunar surface again after the crewed Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

Artemis 4, the fourth mission under the Artemis program, is scheduled to launch in September 2028.

Artemis 5, the fifth mission under the Artemis program, is scheduled to launch in September 2029. Astronauts on the Artemis 5 mission will be the first to use the Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV).

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Ashim Chandra Sarkar founded Space & Telescope in 2022. He holds a M.Sc. in physics and has five years of research experience in optical astronomy. His passion for astronomy inspired him to open this website. He is responsible for the editorial vision of

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