Like its Apollo 15, 16, and 17 missions of 1971 and ’72, which included the deployment of specially designed rovers for traveling about the moon, NASA wants Artemis astronauts to explore far beyond the lunar surface surrounding the landing site of their spacecraft. While the Apollo program’s Boeing-built Lunar Roving Vehicles’ (LRV) two 36-volt silver-zinc batteries provided enough juice to journey a cumulative distance of up to 57 miles, per the manufacturer, the missions’ trio of two-passenger vehicles ultimately never traveled more than 4.7 miles from the landing site of the lunar modules that brought the astronauts and rovers to the surface of Earth’s lone satellite.
GM and Lockheed Martin, however, are determined to create a vehicle that’s capable of traveling much farther distances than the LRV of a half-century ago. Given potential payload concerns related to transporting the GM and Lockheed Martin Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV), we wager this new electric moon machine won’t crib the giant 200.0-kWh battery pack that’s available in the GMC Hummer EV.
Nevertheless, it’s possible the LTV’s battery pack utilizes the automaker’s “Ultium” battery technology in order to provide the vehicle with plenty of range to traverse the moon’s south pole—an area NASA plans to place its so-called Artemus Base Camp. Additionally, GM and Lockheed Martin plan to fit the LTV with autonomous driving technology in order to allow Artemis astronauts to focus on other mission-critical issues and experiments.
Whether or not humanity itself needs to return to the moon is debatable. Regardless, the technology needed to successfully complete such a mission, including the development of the LTV, may very well lead to breakthroughs that impact consumers on Earth. At the very least it seems we’re set to enjoy an informal competition between the proposed lunar vehicles of automotive and aerospace giants from the likes of Toyota, General Motors and Lockheed Martin, and—surely—others.