Inquiring about Speed Perception on the Moon at 9 mph: Scientists at NASA to Investigate in 2030

Assuming that there is no DMV office on the moon yet, NASA can proceed with plans to enhance astronauts’ ability to drive on and around the lunar surface without a moon license.

Last week, NASA announced that it is requesting proposals from three companies to design and build a lunar terrain vehicle (L.T.V.) for transporting astronauts during future moon explorations, possibly starting in 2030.

“There are no roads where it will go,” said Jacob Bleacher, NASA’s chief exploration scientist, at a news conference. “The mobility of the L.T.V. will change our perception of the moon.”

Vanessa Wyche, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, added, “We are excited about the development of the Artemis generation lunar exploration vehicle to enhance our lunar exploration capabilities. This vehicle will enable astronauts to explore and conduct scientific research on the moon while also serving as a science platform between manned missions.”

One of the requirements for the vehicles is that they must be autonomous, as they will remain on the moon for robotic exploration after human use.

The electric vehicles will be capable of traveling at speeds of around nine miles per hour and covering about a dozen miles or eight hours on a single charge.

The three companies tasked with submitting proposals are Intuitive Machines, Lunar Outpost, and Venturi Astrolab. Only one company will be chosen to build the vehicles for NASA.

The L.T.V. contract is estimated to be worth up to $4.6 billion over the next 15 years, with five years dedicated to development and a decade for operations on the moon. Unlike in the past, the selected company will own the vehicles and can rent them out when not in use by NASA.

Moon mobility is not a new concept, as demonstrated by the lunar rover used during Apollo 15 in July 1971. The rover, powered by batteries, was built by Boeing and General Motors.

Automotive manufacturers will collaborate with at least two of the potential partners, according to the New York Times. The Intuitive Machines team includes Michelin, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman. Lunar Outpost is partnering with Goodyear and General Motors, who were involved in the design of the Apollo moon buggies.