Northrop Grumman’s lunar vehicle will help map the moon’s south pole.

By  Chris Young

Northrop Grumman will design the electric and autonomous Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV) for NASA’s Artemis astronauts, who are due to land on the moon in 2025, a press statement reveals.

The aerospace and defense firm announced a partnership with AVL, Intuitive Machines, Lunar Outpost, and Michelin to work on the project, which will help to take humans to the lunar south pole for the first time in an expedition that could uncover ice and water resources for future missions.

Enhancing human and robotic exploration of the moon

For the LTV, Northrop Grumman will be the primary contractor meaning it will handle systems integration as well as other facets such as energy management, avionic, navigation, and training. AVL will provide its expertise on battery-electric systems, and autonomous driving. Intuitive Machines will bring its knowledge on landing systems to the table, while Lunar Outpost will bring dust mitigation technologies from its MAPP rover. Finally, Michelin will design a robust airless tire specifically for the LTV.

“Together with our teammates, we will provide NASA with an agile and affordable vehicle design to greatly enhance human and robotic exploration of the lunar surface to further enable a sustainable human presence on the Moon and, ultimately, Mars,” said Steve Krein, vice president, civil and commercial space, tactical space systems division, Northrop Grumman.

Astronauts prepare for 2025 lunar landings

On top of the industrial partnerships, Northrop Grumman also has Apollo astronauts Dr. Harrison (Jack) Schmitt and Charles Duke on their teams to provide first-hand knowledge and how systems can be optimized for future Artemis astronauts. Both Schmitt and Duke rode NASA’s lunar buggy for the Apollo 16 and Apollo 17 missions respectively. 

As well as the LTV, Northrop also explained on its website that it is developing the Habitat and Logistics Outpost (HALO), which will be a lunar habitat with living quarters for Artemis astronauts. HALO will be able to provide life support for four astronauts for up to 30 days and it will feature up to four docking ports for spacecraft, including NASA’s in-development Orion rocket.

Earlier this month, NASA confirmed that its Artemis program lunar landings have been delayed to 2025 from the originally scheduled date of 2024. The U.S. space agency cited Blue Origin’s failed legal dispute with NASA over its award of a lunar lander contract to SpaceX as one of the reasons for the delay.