Lockheed Martin and Basic Motors are companions for the NASA moon rover

Lockheed Martin and General Motors are working together to develop a new type of lunar vehicle for NASA to use on their upcoming Artemis missions to the moon, the companies said on Wednesday.

“Surface mobility is critical to long-term exploration of the lunar surface. These next-generation rovers will dramatically extend the range of astronauts,” Lockheed Martin executive vice president Rick Ambrose said in a statement.

Earlier this year, NASA announced to companies that it needed “a human-class rover that would extend the exploration range of” astronauts during missions for the agency’s Artemis program. NASA’s program, announced by the administration of former President Donald Trump and continued under President Joe Biden, consists of several missions to the orbit and surface of the moon over the coming years.

NASA’s request for a next-generation lunar vehicle indicated that a variety of cutting-edge technologies should be deployed, including electric vehicle systems, autonomous driving, and dangerous terrain capabilities.

GM has built such a vehicle before as the company was the largest subcontractor helping Boeing develop the lunar vehicle, which was used on the moon during three Apollo missions.

Apollo 16 astronaut John Young drives NASA’s Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) at Descartes’ landing site on the moon on April 21, 1972.

Charles Duke | NASA

While NASA’s previous rover was able to go nearly around the moon at nearly six miles an hour, it traveled less than five miles from the Apollo landing site.

Lockheed Martin said its next-generation lunar all-terrain vehicle was “designed to travel far greater distances to aid in the early excursions of the moon’s south pole, where it’s cold and dark with rougher terrain.”

– CNBC’s Mike Wayland contributed to this story.

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