Northrop Grumman and partners to develop a new lunar rover for NASA
Northrop Grumman has entered into an agreement with AVL, Intuitive Machines, Lunar Outpost, and Michelin to design and build a Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV) to transport astronauts on the Moon's surface for NASA's Artemis project.
When the last Apollo astronauts lifted off from the Moon in 1972, they left behind three remarkable machines at various sites. These Lunar Roving Vehicles (LRV), better known as the Lunar Rovers, were electrically-powered two-seaters that turned the Apollo landings from brief visits to serious exploration missions. Weighing only 460 lb (260 kg), the Rover could move at 11.2 mph (18 km/h) and carried the astronauts up to 4.7 miles (7.6 km) from the landing site, greatly extending the area they could explore.
These Rovers proved so useful that when plans for returning US astronauts to the Moon began to take shape, they invariably included some more advanced versions. Now being explored by several companies and partnerships, the new LTV is expected to do much more than its predecessor, have a far longer service life, and be capable of handling the intense cold of the lunar night when temperatures can drop to -260 °F (-162 °C) in an instant.
The new Northrop Grumman partnership is still in its very early stages, so its LTV isn't much more than a concept and no details of its design or specifications have been released. What is known is that the partners have been selected for their individual areas of expertise and will work together to create a fully integrated vehicle.
Northrop Grumman company will act as the primary contractor, handle systems integration, cargo storage, energy management, avionics, navigation, sensors, controls, mission planning, operations and training. Meanwhile, AVL will work on the electric propulsion system, Intuitive Machines will provide expertise on landing systems to deliver the rover to the Moon, Lunar Outpost will adapt the dust mitigation and thermal technologies developed for the MAPP rover and provide rapid prototyping techniques, and Michelin will design an airless tire – an area in which it has developed expertise in recent years.
Along with the industrial partners, former Apollo astronauts Dr. Harrison (Jack) Schmitt and Charles Duke will give feedback based on their experiences of driving on the Moon.
"Together with our teammates, we will provide NASA with an agile and affordable vehicle design to greatly enhance human and robotic exploration of the lunar surface to further enable a sustainable human presence on the Moon and ultimately Mars," says Steve Krein, vice president, civil and commercial space, tactical space systems division, Northrop Grumman.
The video below introduces the concept LTV.
Source: Northrop Grumman