As NASA is preparing to send humans to the lunar surface, the agency is also working on technologies that will enable astronauts to get the best out of the mission. The American Space Agency is recently proposing for a Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV) to boost astronauts’ exploration and scientific discoveries on the lunar south pole region during the Artemis missions. This vehicle will be driving on the moon before the end of this decade. Why is NASA interested in building Lunar Terrain Vehicle? Continue reading to find out.
How NASA is Planning to Build Next-Generation Lunar Terrain Vehicle that will be driving on the moon
NASA is planning to build a Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV) as a functioning crewed and uncrewed rover to enhance human exploration on the moon. The LTV will be build to handle unique lunar environment and offer end-to-end services. NASA proposed to start crewed operations using the LTV during Artemis V in 2029. The LTV will be driving on the moon carrying astronauts to new destination on the lunar surface.
The American Space Agency expects the proposal submissions from companies willing to build the LTV to close on July 10, 2023. NASA hopes that the next generation lunar Terrian Vehicle will enable astronauts to reach distanced part of the lunar surface and carry out more scientific experiments during the upcoming Artemis missions. Unlike conducting an EVA on the lunar surface using foot, the LTV will allow the crew to collect more lunar samples and improve our knowledge about the South Pole of the lunar surface.
NASA is planning to contract an industrial partner to develop the technologies of LTV. The agency has been taking advantage of commercial innovation to achieve the best in the human space exploration in space and other celestial objects like the moon. U.S. taxpayers will also be excited as NASA is getting the value for their money through these innovative partnerships.
“We want to leverage industry’s knowledge and innovation, combined with NASA’s history of successfully operating rovers, to make the best possible surface rover for our astronaut crews and scientific researchers,” said Lara Kearney, manager of NASA’s Extravehicular Activity and Human Surface Mobility program at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
How the Lunar Terrain Vehicle will be driving on the moon
The LTV will operate on the lunar surface following an Apollo-style lunar rover and a Martian unmanned rover. The vehicle will be built with phases that will support the crew and phases that will support the uncrewed science exploration on the lunar surface. The uncrewed phases will function like NASA’s Curiosity and Perseverance Mars rovers. The phases of the LTV will enable it to advanced the performance of science with the crew present and when they are not present on the lunar surface.
NASA revealed that the Artemis Astronauts will be driving on the moon using the LTV to move around the lunar surface transporting scientific equipment and advancing the distance that they would have covered during moonwalks. NASA engineers will remotely operate the LTV to transport cargo and other scientific payloads between crewed landing sites. This powerful vehicle will pave the way for extra science returns and enhance lunar explorations.
The LTV will enable scientists to study the best regions on the lunar surface for future landings. Some regions of the Lunar South Pole are permanently shadowed without sunlight. Hence, the LTV will have several systems to back both its manned and unmanned operation on the lunar surface.
Some technologies that the LTV will have include semi-autonomous driving, advancement power management, protection from the harsh lunar environment, start-of-the-art communication and navigation system. Proposals for the LTV services contract should be ready before by July 10, 2023. NASA plans to award the contract on November 2023. The agency is urging industries to apply for proposal based on this request for information.
The LTV will change how we will be driving on the moon starting from Artemis crewed missions. As NASA is making plans for its Lunar Terrain Vehicle, the agency is also preparing for its Artemis 2 crewed mission around the moon after completing the Artemis 1 mission. What do you think about this fascinating lunar vehicle?