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NASA Makes Progress with New Lunar Terrain Vehicle Moon Rover Services

Astronaut on the moon kneeling in front of the lunar terrain vehicle

As astronauts explore the South Pole region of the Moon during Artemis missions, they will be able to go farther and conduct more science than ever before thanks to a new Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV). Instead of owning the vehicle, NASA plans to contract it as a service from industry. 

The draft request for proposals for the LTV Services (LTVS) contract is now ready for industry to review, and NASA will accept feedback until Dec. 1. The draft outlines NASA’s expectation for use of the LTV on the lunar surface in the 2028 timeframe. After taking industry feedback into account, NASA plans to issue a final request for proposals by early 2023.

“This draft is one of the first important steps in this exciting project that will allow astronauts to explore farther on the Moon than ever before,” says Lara Kearney, manager of the Extravehicular Activity (EVA) and Human Surface Mobility (HSM) Program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “Gaining industry feedback is crucial as we move forward in issuing a final request for proposal.”  

This iconic style of unpressurized, human-class rover which debuted during the Apollo missions is a cornerstone in NASA’s plans to develop a long-term presence on the lunar surface. While those human-driven vehicles expanded lunar exploration capabilities significantly, the new Artemis LTV will feature multiple upgrades and advanced technology.  

Because Artemis missions will be targeting the lunar South Pole area, the new LTV must be able to withstand and operate in cold and unique lighting conditions. The Artemis LTV is also expected to be able to cover a range of hundreds of miles per year, enabling access to diverse locations that will facilitate science discoveries, resource prospecting, and exploration. It will also be capable of remote operation and will be available for other commercial uses when not carrying out NASA research and operations. 

Contracting services from industry partners allows NASA to leverage commercial innovation and provide the best value to U.S. taxpayers while achieving its human spaceflight and exploration goals. The contract will support continued science and long-term human exploration at the Moon under Artemis, which will land the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface.  

Learn more about this new approach to lunar surface exploration and NASA’s plans to contract for LTV services at:

Rebecca Wickes 
Johnson Space Center, Houston