Thursday, March 9, 2023

NASA delays Artemis Lunar Terrain Vehicle request for proposal

NASA is delaying the release of the final request for proposal (RFP) for the development of a Lunar Terrain Vehicle that will be used on future manned missions to the moon.

As astronauts explore the South Pole region of the Moon during future Artemis missions, they will be able to go farther and conduct more science than ever before thanks to a new Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV). Instead of owning the vehicle, NASA plans to contract it as a service from the industry.

The agency released a draft RFP for the LTV Services (LTVS) in November and invited companies to review the document and provide feedback until Dec. 1. The draft RFP outlines NASA’s expectation for use of the LTV on the lunar surface in the 2028 timeframe.

“The LTV is currently needed on the lunar surface no later than August 2028,” NASA said during an Industry Day meeting in August.

“The government is still reviewing and answering questions received in response to the LTVS Draft RFP,” NASA said in contract documents released Wednesday. The space agency now intends to issue an updated draft RFP by April 14 to capture changes because of industry feedback and questions.

“Amendments to the LTVS Draft RFP are anticipated after all currently received questions are answered and interested parties have had an opportunity to ask additional questions,” NASA said. “As a result, it is anticipated that the LTVS Final RFP release will be delayed until no later than May 26.”

The industry will have another opportunity to submit questions and comments after the release of the Final RFP, space agency officials said in contract documents.

“Thank you for your patience and your continued interest in this procurement,” officials added.

The LTVS contract will provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective LTV services to meet NASA’s need for a human-class rover that will extend the exploration range of EVA-suited crewmembers on the surface of the Moon. Mobility will enable the crew members to traverse greater distances to better explore the lunar surface.

“This draft [RFP] is one of the first important steps in this exciting project that will allow astronauts to explore farther on the Moon than ever before,” says Lara Kearney, manager of the Extravehicular Activity (EVA) and Human Surface Mobility Program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “Gaining industry feedback is crucial as we move forward in issuing a final request for proposal.”

Because Artemis missions will be targeting the lunar South Pole area, the new LTV must be able to withstand and operate in cold and unique lighting conditions.

The Artemis LTV is also expected to be able to cover a range of hundreds of miles per year, enabling access to diverse locations that will facilitate scientific discoveries, resource prospecting, and exploration. It will also be capable of remote operation and will be available for other commercial uses when not carrying out NASA research and operations.

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