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NASA is looking for new ideas for its lunar rovers. As part of its Artemis lunar exploration program, the agency is asking American companies to think about how to get around on the lunar surface.

NASA says it’s seeking to foster an emerging American market of lunar transportation capability by engaging the terrestrial vehicle and robotic communities. 

Steve Clarke, deputy associate administrator for exploration, Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, says: “We are turning to industry to offer us exciting approaches to leverage existing systems here on Earth – including law enforcement, military, or recreational vehicles – that could be modified for use in space to enhance our mobility architecture.”

Marshall Smith, director of human lunar exploration programs in the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, adds: “The most we can expect crew to walk while wearing their spacesuits is about a half-mile. If we can place a rover near a landing site before crew arrive, the potential for scientific return on those first missions will grow exponentially.”

“We also want to hear from industry leaders in all-terrain vehicles, electric vehicles, and more—this is not exclusive to the space industry. We want our rovers on the Moon to draw on, and spur, innovations in electric vehicle energy storage and management, autonomous driving, and extreme environment resistance,” says Smith.

NASA says it will host a virtual industry forum Feb. 12, to explain the strategy and answer questions from potential responders.

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