London, 31 May 2023.- NASA is seeking industry proposals for a next-generation Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV) which will allow astronauts to go further and explore the south polar region of the Moon during the Artemis missions. NASA will contract the LTV as a service from industry instead of owning the rover.
The LTV will function like a cross between an Apollo lunar rover and a Mars uncrewed rover. It will support phases driven by astronauts and phases as an uncrewed mobile science exploration platform. This intends to enable continued performance of science when crews are not present on the lunar surface.
Engineers will operate the LTV remotely to transport cargo and scientific payloads between crewed landing sites, enabling additional science returns, resource prospecting, and lunar exploration. This aims to expand scientific research opportunities on the Moon during uncrewed operations.
The unique environment near the lunar South Pole- including regions which are permanently shadowed or experience extended periods without sunlight- the LTV will need to incorporate several systems to support both crewed and uncrewed operations. Some of the more critical systems include advanced power management, semi-autonomous driving, state-of-the-art communication and navigation systems, and protection from the extreme environment.
Companies will be required to provide end-to-end services, from development and delivery to the lunar surface, to execution of operations. Each rover must be able to carry two suited astronauts, accommodate a robotic arm or mechanism to support science exploration, and survive the extreme temperatures at the lunar South Pole.
NASA intends to use the LTV for crewed operations beginning with Artemis V in 2029. Prior to crew arrival, the rover will be used for uncrewed and commercial activities once it lands on the lunar surface. Proposals for the LTV services contract are due July 10, 2023, with the contract award scheduled for November 2023.