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NASA has officially selected three technology startups to develop vehicles for its upcoming lunar mission

NASA has chosen four companies, namely Intuitive Machines, Lunar Outpost, and Venturi Astrolab, to develop a lunar terrain vehicle (LTV) for the agency’s upcoming Artemis mission. This vehicle will aid in scientific research during the Artemis campaign on the Moon and serve as preparation for future human missions to Mars, as stated by NASA in an official announcement.

Vanessa Wyche, the director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, expressed excitement about the development of the Artemis generation lunar exploration vehicle, highlighting its potential to advance lunar exploration capabilities. Wyche emphasized that the LTV will significantly enhance astronauts’ ability to conduct scientific activities on the lunar surface and serve as a science platform between crewed missions.

NASA plans to utilize the LTV for crewed operations starting with Artemis V. The contract, structured with “firm-fixed-price task orders,” has a combined maximum potential value of $4.6 billion for all selected companies. Each provider will commence with a feasibility task order, which involves a year-long special study to develop a system meeting NASA’s requirements through the preliminary design maturity project phase.

During intervals between Artemis missions, when crews are not present on the Moon, the LTV will operate remotely to support NASA’s scientific objectives as required. Additionally, the selected providers will have the opportunity to utilize their LTVs for commercial lunar surface activities unrelated to NASA missions during these periods, as per the space agency’s statement.

Jacob Bleacher, NASA’s chief exploration scientist at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, highlighted the significance of the LTV in enabling exploration to previously inaccessible locations on the lunar surface. He emphasized the vehicle’s role in enhancing exploration capabilities and facilitating new scientific discoveries.

Through the Artemis program, NASA aims to send astronauts, including the first woman, the first person of color, and the first international partner astronaut, to explore the Moon. This initiative represents a significant step forward in humanity’s quest for further exploration and scientific discovery beyond Earth’s orbit.

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