NASA picks 3 companies to design autonomous moon rovers

NASA selected three commercial space companies to design autonomous moon rovers the space agency could use for moving people and cargo on the Earth’s satellite.

Intuitive Machines, Lunar Outpost and Venturi Astrolab were picked to develop a Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV) for astronauts so they could further explore the moon. They would also have the capability of operating without their presence.

“We look forward to the development of the Artemis generation lunar exploration vehicle to help us advance what we learn at the Moon,” Vanessa Wyche, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston said in a Wednesday statement. “This vehicle will greatly increase our astronauts’ ability to explore and conduct science on the lunar surface while also serving as a science platform between crewed missions.”

The contracts with the companies have a maximum potential value of $4.6 billion combined.

The companies will be able to use the LTVs for commercial use outside the NASA missions.

“We will use the LTV to travel to locations we might not otherwise be able to reach on foot, increasing our ability to explore and make new scientific discoveries,” Jacob Bleacher, the chief exploration scientist in the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington said.

“With the Artemis crewed missions, and during remote operations when there is not a crew on the surface, we are enabling science and discovery on the Moon year around.”

The selection presents another NASA boost to their Artemis program, which has already received tens of billions of dollars. NASA has continued investments in new technologies like energy generation and mining.

The contracts will allow companies to work on their designs for the next year and strategize plans on how to get the rovers to the moon. NASA will then pick one of the contractors to move forward with the design.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.