The announcement by Northrop Grumman
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – The concept of a lunar rover that an industry consortium led by Northrop Grumman plans to create for NASA’s Artemis programme has been revealed.
On Nov. 16, Northrop Grumman stated that it is collaborating with four additional companies. It could be anyone from a commercial lunar lander developer to a tyre manufacturer proposing a lunar rover to NASA.
According to Rick Mastracchio, director of Business Development for Human Space at Northrop Grumman, “Our partners and vehicle proposed to increase the exploration possibilities of the lunar surface.”
Northrop would be in charge of the projected rover’s development, drawing on its experience with numerous spacecraft projects. Among its collaborators are Intuitive Machines, which will create the Nova-D lander, an enhanced version of its Nova-C lander, to carry the rover to the lunar surface.
Lunar Outpost, which is working on a small robotic rover named MAPP that will launch to the moon in 2022 on a Nova-C lander, will use its knowledge of that rover to this project.
Companies from the automobile industry are also represented on the team. AVL, a business that specialises in vehicle development, simulation, and testing, will contribute knowledge in the areas of electric vehicles and self-driving technologies. The tyre company Michelin will give the rover an “airless tyre option.”
Only a few technical data regarding the rover were disclosed by the companies. The size of the rover was not revealed, although the Nova-D lander is designed to transport payloads of up to 500 kilos to the lunar surface.
The announcement by other Companies
The Northrop Grumman Corporation isn’t the first corporation to declare ambitions for a lunar rover. Lockheed Martin and General Motors established a collaboration in May to work on the design of the Artemis lunar rover. For the rover concept, which is still in its early phases, the businesses claimed they would combine Lockheed’s competence in space systems with GM’s strengths in electric vehicles and autonomy.
However, it’s uncertain whether NASA will choose Northrop’s or another design as an unpressurized rover to accompany Artemis missions. NASA sent a request for information in August, asking for feedback on a lunar terrain vehicle (LTV). NASA was particularly interested in how companies could construct rovers that would be able to live for an extended lunar time.
Another question was how the landers would be brought to the lunar surface after operating for up to ten years. It also requested that companies explore offering the landers to NASA as a commercial service.
The deadline for responses to the RFI was October 1st. NASA hasn’t said when formal offers for the LTV would be sought, or when the rover will be sent to the moon.