See NASA’s Initial Moon Buggy Concepts, Expected on the Moon by 2030

Three companies are competing to design NASA’s lunar terrain vehicle (LTV) for the agency’s Artemis campaign

An artist's concept of Intuitive Machines' moon buggy, featuring a fully suited astronaut sitting in the driver's seat
An artist's concept of Intuitive Machines' Moon RACER LTV Intuitive Machines / NASA

By the end of 2026, NASA will return astronauts to the moon as part of their Artemis campaign—a multi-stage mission meant to both establish long-term research on the lunar surface and prepare for future explorations of Mars. And by 2030, the agency announced last week, their astronauts will be cruising the moon on a new set of wheels.

Three private U.S. companies—Intuitive Machines, Lunar Outpost and Venturi Astrolab—have been selected by NASA to advance preliminary concepts for the Artemis mission’s next lunar terrain vehicle (LTV). They will have the next 12 months to design their rovers and formulate transport plans under a “feasibility task order” from NASA, before just one is selected to move into actual development. A potential 15-year contract worth up to $4.6 billion is up for grabs.

“The LTV is truly an exploration vehicle,” Jacob Bleacher, the chief exploration scientist at NASA, said at a news conference last week. “Where it will go, there are no roads. Its mobility will fundamentally change our view of the moon."

NASA Artemis Lunar Terrain Vehicle (Official NASA Trailer)

The three companies had already submitted designs that met basic qualifications NASA put forth: the ability to travel 9.3 miles per hour and cover at least 12 miles—or eight hours of driving—on a single charge. The final designs must also be able to support two fully suited astronauts and operate both manually and without anyone in the driver’s seat, allowing NASA to lead remote tests and explorations if there are no astronauts available.

Crucially, the LTVs will need to be durable. Artemis’s operations will be focused on the moon’s south pole, a region known for its rugged terrain, extreme temperatures and potential for frozen water.

“The environment on the moon is harsh," Steve Altemus, the CEO of Intuitive Machines, the company behind the recent launch and lunar touchdown of the Odysseus spacecraft, tells William Harwood of CBS News. “We have 500 degree temperature swings. The south pole region is rocky and craggy and shadowed. It's going to stress our suspension, our drivetrain, our power systems, and our autonomous driving algorithms and software.”
An artist's concept of Lunar Outpost's Lunar Dawn moon buggy design, being driven on the moon by a fully suited astronaut.
An artist's concept of Lunar Outpost's Lunar Dawn LTV design Lunar Outpost / NASA

If all goes according to plan, the selected LTV will be waiting on the moon before the arrival of Artemis V, which is slated to transport a crew of astronauts to their lunar base in 2030.

“If they can get there earlier, we'll take it earlier," Lara Kearney, manager of the Extravehicular Activity and Human Surface Mobility Program at the Johnson Space Center, said at the news conference.
An artist's concept of Venturi Astrolab's moon buggy design, featured on the moon beside a white rocket, with earth hanging in the sky in the background
An artist's concept of Venturi Astolab's FLEX LTV design Venturi Astrolab / NASA

It’s been more than 50 years since moon buggies last traversed the lunar surface, during the final three 1971 and 1972 Apollo missions. Built by Boeing, they weighed 460 pounds on Earth and 76 pounds on the moon. Intended to reach six miles per hour, they topped out at 11.2 miles per hour during their final usage with Apollo 17.

NASA’s Artemis mission is just one of at least 22 international missions scheduled to land on the moon by the end of 2026. In recent weeks, calls from scientists across the world to establish better protections for the lunar surface, in an effort to preserve sensitive areas crucial for scientific research, have heightened. And just last week, in preparation for an increase in lunar traffic, the White House tasked NASA with establishing an internationally accepted time standard for the moon, tentatively called Coordinated Lunar Time.

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