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An artist’s concept shows an outline of the lunar vehicle design.
Lockheed Martin | General Motors

Lockheed Martin and General Motors are partnering to develop a new type of lunar vehicle for NASA to use during its upcoming Artemis missions to the moon, the companies announced on Wednesday.

“Surface mobility is critical to enable and sustain long-term exploration of the lunar surface. These next-generation rovers will dramatically extend the range of astronauts,” Lockheed Martin executive vice president Rick Ambrose said in a statement.

Earlier this year NASA issued a notice to companies that it “requires a human-class rover that will extend the exploration range of” astronauts during missions for the agency’s Artemis program. The NASA program, announced by President Donald Trump’s administration and continued under President Joe Biden, consists of multiple missions to the moon’s orbit and surface in the years ahead.

NASA’s request for a next-generation lunar vehicle noted it should utilize a variety of cutting-edge technologies, including electric vehicle systems, autonomous driving, and hazardous terrain capabilities.

GM has built such a vehicle before, as the company was the major subcontractor that helped Boeing create the lunar roving vehicle that was utilized during three Apollo missions on the moon.

Apollo 16 astronaut John Young drives NASA’s Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) at the Descartes landing site on the Moon on April 21, 1972.
Charles Duke | NASA

While NASA’s previous rover was capable of reaching nearly driving around the moon at nearly six miles per hour, it traveled less than five miles from the Apollo landing site.

Lockheed Martin says its next-generation lunar terrain vehicle is “being designed to traverse significantly farther distances to support the first excursions of the moon’s south pole, where it is cold and dark with more rugged terrain.”

CNBC’s Mike Wayland contributed to this story.

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