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Neutron Rocket Development: 2024 Updates

Intuitive Machines, Lunar Outpost, And Venturi Astrolab Move Forward On LTV

Intuitive Machines Moon Racer Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV) Concept Art

The real race for the multi-billion dollar contract is on:

Each provider will begin with a feasibility task order, which will be a year-long special study to develop a system that meets NASA’s requirements through the preliminary design maturity project phase. The agency will issue a subsequent request for task order proposal to eligible provider(s) for a demonstration mission to continue developing the LTV, deliver it to the surface of the Moon, and validate its performance and safety ahead of Artemis V. NASA anticipates making an award to only one provider for the demonstration. NASA will issue additional task orders to provide unpressurized rover capabilities for the agency’s moonwalking and scientific exploration needs through 2039.

The LTV will be able to handle the extreme conditions at the Moon’s South Pole and will feature advanced technologies for power management, autonomous driving, and state of the art communications and navigation systems. Crews will use the LTV to explore, transport scientific equipment, and collect samples of the lunar surface, much farther than they could on foot, enabling increased science returns.

…Between Artemis missions, when crews are not on the Moon, the LTV will operate remotely to support NASA’s scientific objectives as needed. Outside those times, the provider will have the ability to use their LTV for commercial lunar surface activities unrelated to NASA missions.

While people look at this as a simple “moon buggy” project, something that was done decades ago, this is actually going to be an extremely sophisticated and long-lasting piece of lunar infrastructure that will require advances in technology and extremely well-thought out engineering, not to mention a novel servicing and repair plan, if is to have any shot at lasting a decade or more in lunar conditions.