One of these concept lunar vehicles could join NASA’s Artemis V astronauts on the moon

NASA selected three companies to develop their lunar terrain vehicles over the next year.

Intuitive Machines

Three companies are vying for the opportunity to send their own lunar vehicle to the moon to support NASA’s upcoming Artemis missions. The space agency announced this week that it’s chosen Intuitive Machines, Lunar Outpost and Venturi Astrolab to develop their lunar terrain vehicles (LTV) in a feasibility study over the next year. After that, only one is expected to be selected for a demonstration mission, in which the vehicle will be completed and sent to the moon for performance and safety tests. NASA is planning to use the LTV starting with the Artemis V crew that’s projected to launch in early 2030.

The LTV that eventually heads to the moon’s south pole needs to function as both a crewed and uncrewed vehicle, serving sometimes as a mode of transportation for astronauts and other times as a remotely operated explorer. NASA says it’ll contract the chosen vehicle for lunar services through 2039, with all the task orders relating to the LTV amounting to a potential value of up to $4.6 billion. The selected company will also be able to use its LTV for commercial activities in its down time.

Lunar Outpost's Lunar Dawn LTV concept is pictured in a rendering showing it driving on the moon
Lunar Outpost
Venturi Astrolab's concept lunar terrain vehicle, Flex pictured alongside renderings of a solar powered rover and lander on the moon

Intuitive Machines, which will be developing an LTV called the Moon Racer, has already bagged multiple contracts with NASA as part of the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program, and in February launched its first lander, Odysseus, to the moon to achieve the first commercial moon landing. Venturi Astrolab will be developing a vehicle it’s dubbed Flex, while Lunar Outpost will be working on an LTV called Lunar Dawn. All must be able to support a crew of two astronauts and withstand the extreme conditions of the lunar south pole.

“We will use the LTV to travel to locations we might not otherwise be able to reach on foot, increasing our ability to explore and make new scientific discoveries,” said Jacob Bleacher, a chief exploration scientist at NASA.