NASA is Developing a Next-Gen Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV) for the Artemis Program

NASA News: Development of the next-generation Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV).

On April 3, 2024, NASA announced a critical step forward in its Artemis program, selecting a team to develop the next-generation Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV). This investment signifies a significant boost for human and scientific exploration on the lunar surface. Here’s a breakdown of the details:

Investment and Contracting of Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV):

Indefinite-Delivery/Infinite-Quantity Contract:

Instead of a fixed-price contract, NASA has opted for an “IDIQ” contract. This allows for more flexibility and potential cost savings. NASA pays for specific tasks or milestones completed by the team, with a total potential program value of $4.6 billion for all awarded contracts.

Industry-Led Development:

This LTV program differs from traditional NASA spacecraft development. Here, NASA acts as a customer, acquiring LTV services from the chosen industry team. This approach leverages private sector expertise and potentially streamlines development.

Selected Team and Vehicle Design for Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV):

Lead Contractor:

Lockheed Martin leads the winning team, bringing extensive experience in spacecraft design and integration.

Team Members:

Initially, the contract was offered to companies like Intuitive Machines, Lunar Outpost, and Venturi Astrolab but they were all unsuccessful in securing the recent NASA contract for the next-generation Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV) for the Artemis program.

The newly chosen team, announced in April 2024, is led by Lockheed Martin and includes General Motors, Goodyear, and MDA Space.

Lockheed Martin is joined by a powerful consortium:

General Motors (GM) contributes automotive engineering expertise, crucial for a lunar rover.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company lends its knowledge of tire development for challenging terrains.

MDA Space adds its experience in space robotics and systems engineering.

Vehicle Specifications:

While the exact design remains under wraps, press releases hint at some features:

Focus on Safety and Comfort: The LTV prioritizes crew safety and well-being during lunar excursions.

Expansive Views: The flight deck is positioned strategically to offer astronauts a clear view of the lunar landscape for safe navigation.

Dual Functionality: This LTV is designed for both crewed missions and autonomous operations for scientific purposes when astronauts are not present.

Long-Term Vision:

The LTV development goes beyond supporting solely NASA’s Artemis program. The design could be adapted for use by other commercial space agencies and companies, fostering a more sustainable and diverse global economy.

Goals and Purposes of Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV):

The primary goals and purposes of the Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV) for NASA’s Artemis program can be summarized as follows:

Enhanced Exploration:

Increased Mobility: The LTV is designed to significantly extend the range astronauts can travel from their lunar landing sites. This allows them to explore a wider variety of locations on the Moon‘s surface.

Reaching Scientifically Interesting Sites: By venturing beyond the immediate landing zone, astronauts can access areas with greater scientific potential, such as regions with unique geological formations, potential water ice deposits, or areas of historical interest from past missions.

Supporting Diverse Missions: The LTV can be used for various scientific missions, including collecting geological samples, deploying scientific instruments, and conducting field studies across a broader lunar area.

Sustainable Lunar Presence:

Enabling Longer Missions: The LTV’s extended range allows for longer and more comprehensive lunar surface missions. Astronauts can spend more time conducting research and exploration activities beyond the limitations of their immediate landing zone.

Supporting Lunar Base Construction: As Artemis aims to establish a long-term human presence on the Moon, the LTV will be instrumental in transporting astronauts and materials to different locations for base construction and maintenance activities.

Logistic Support: The LTV can be used for transporting supplies and equipment across the lunar surface, supporting ongoing research and infrastructure development on the Moon.

Additional Considerations:

Safety and Comfort: The LTV design prioritizes the safety and well-being of astronauts during lunar excursions. This includes features like a pressurized cabin, environmental controls, and comfortable seating for extended missions.

Operational Flexibility: The LTV might be designed for both crewed and autonomous operations. This allows for scientific data collection and exploration activities even when astronauts are not present on the lunar surface.

What is NASA’s Artemis Program?

NASA’s Artemis program is an ambitious and multifaceted endeavor aimed at returning humans to the Moon and establishing a sustainable human presence there. It builds upon the technological advancements and knowledge gained from the Apollo missions, but with a broader vision for future lunar exploration and potential stepping stones to Mars.

Its goals include Landing the First Woman and First Person of Color on the Moon, Sustainable Lunar Presence, and Scientific Exploration, and utilizing two space vehicles Gateway and Starship (contracted from SpaceX).


This selection marks a turning point in lunar exploration. The LTV, with its industry-led development and enhanced exploration capabilities, promises to be a game-changer for future Artemis missions and the potential for a long-term human presence on the Moon.

We can expect more details regarding the LTV’s design and functionalities as the project progresses.

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