The lunar vehicle will be designed to travel further than the Apollo-era rovers, which traveled 7.6 kilometers from the landing site, GM and Lockheed said on Wednesday. Although NASA has not announced a contract for a lunar rover, a formal request for proposals could arrive later this year despite uncertainty over the timing and funding of the next lunar mission.
As part of the Artemis program, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration plans to return astronauts to the moon this decade – though the agency has struggled to persuade Congress to appropriate sufficient funds to meet the 2024 deadline. set by the Trump administration. President Joe Biden supported the program, but the proposed timeline for the mission is unclear.
“We are convinced that NASA wants and needs this capability and we are moving forward,” Lockheed spokesman Gary Napier said.
NASA recently suspended work on a human landing system contract it awarded to Space Exploration Technologies Corp. Elon Musk after two other bidders, including Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, filed formal protests against the process.
The US space agency wants its next astronaut missions to be at the south pole of the moon, which is believed to contain underground ice. A NASA forum in February 2020 on a future rover drew a wide range of attendees from companies including SpaceX, Blue Origin, Airbus SE, Boeing Co., and Northrop Grumman Corp.
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