GM, Lockheed Team Up on Potential New-Era Moon Rover for NASA

General Motors Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. are teaming up to develop a new lunar rover for the next time NASA has astronauts motoring around the moon.

The Lunar Terrain Vehicle will be designed to travel farther than the Apollo-era rovers, which drove 4.7 miles (7.6 kilometers) from the landing site, GM and Lockheed said Wednesday. While NASA hasn’t announced a contract for a lunar rover, a formal request for proposals could come later this year despite uncertainty about the timing and funding of the next moon mission.

Under the Artemis program, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration plans to return astronauts to the moon this decade -- although the agency has struggled to persuade Congress to appropriate adequate funds to meet a 2024 deadline set by the Trump administration. President Joe Biden has supported the program, but the proposed timing of the mission is unclear.

“We’re confident that NASA wants and needs this capability and we’re getting ahead of it,” Lockheed spokesman Gary Napier said.

NASA recently suspended work on a human-lander system contract it awarded to Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. after two other bidders, including Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin, lodged formal protests about the process.

The U.S. space agency wants its next astronaut missions to be at the moon’s South Pole, which is thought to hold subterranean ice. A NASA forum in February 2020 on a future rover attracted a wide range of corporate attendees including SpaceX, Blue Origin, Airbus SE, Boeing Co., and Northrop Grumman Corp.

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