SpaceX’s Starship will carry an SUV-sized rover to the Moon in 2026

The Astrolab FLEX can transport cargo, equipment and people.


While its next-generation rocket has yet to fly, that’s not stopping SpaceX from booking Starship flights. On Friday, a startup named Astrolab revealed that it had recently signed an agreement with Elon Musk’s private space firm to reserve a spot on an uncrewed Starship cargo mission that could launch as early as mid-2026. “This is SpaceX’s first commercial cargo contract to the lunar surface,” Jaret Matthews, CEO of Astrolab, told The New York Times, adding his company was one of a few customers involved in the flight.

Astrolab is building a vehicle it hopes will one day carry equipment, supplies and people across the lunar surface. The Flexible Logistics and Exploration (FLEX) rover is about the size of a Jeep Wrangler, making it a bit bigger than NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars. It also features a robotic arm for assisting with cargo and can travel up to 15 miles per hour. Oh, and FLEX can carry up to two astronauts.

Once it lands on the Moon, Astrolab claims FLEX will become the largest rover to travel the lunar surface. Matthews told The Times Astrolab already has customers waiting to use the rover to carry cargo during the 2026 Starship mission. Looking further to the future, Matthews said FLEX could assist with building a permanent human presence on the Moon and beyond. “Ultimately our goal is to have a fleet of rovers both on the Moon and Mars,” he said. “And I really think I see these vehicles as the catalysts ultimately for the off-Earth economy.”

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