This is Flex, the prototype lunar rover being tested in the desert

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[EN VIDÉO] Watch what the Artemis mission launch looks like
In late 2021, NASA’s new heavy-lift launcher SLS (Space Launch System) will launch the first Artemis 1 mission to the moon. This is what its first flight looked like.

our first ride moonthat was July 31, 1971, and Apollo 15 mission. This lunar rover (LRV) was also used on missions 16 and 17. The LRV is a powerful asset that can recover lunar samples farther than around the lunar module. This allows for better diversity of rocks sampled. again, NASA Its Artemis program requires a future LRV. The Flex project responded.

February 2020 NASA Opens Call for Future Concepts to All U.S. Industry lunar terrain vehicle (LVT, Lunar Terrain Vehicle). as a condition, rover Don’t get stressed.It will be used to explore the surface of the Moon’s South Pole, a future exploration site Artemis Project.

Several experts in the aerospace industry have responded. Northrop Grumman, in partnership with several companies, is designing a rover.And Lockheed Martin teaming up with giants car General Motors. For follow-on missions, Japan will provide pressurized rovers. So Astrolab is very competitive, but their development model seems to be more efficient.

Flex, but not just its name!

Flex rover (Flexible Logistics and Exploration) is a real small truck. It is capable of carrying 1,500 kg of cargo as cargo. Two walkers can board and drive it, but also control the rover remotely.It’s flexible, at NASA’s option: if the agency wants to use it for cargo, to install solar panels on the lunar surface, or for transportationastronaut. Astrolab is even considering application terrestrial.

The rover is equipped with four wheels.This start up Established a strategic partnership with electric vehicle manufacturer Venturi Group. Venturi provides wheels, batteries and possible technical exchanges.

Astrolab is very efficient. They already have a prototype of Flex and have started testing it.They even tested the retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfieldhe conducted three spaceflights and also served as Minister of Space robot technology In NASA’s Astronaut Office. His experience helped Astrolab get a clear picture of what future astronauts can expect from the moon.

Chris Hadfield, retired from NASA, test-drives the Flex rover and shares his experience. © Astrolab

new space on the moon

Astrolab quickly turns to prototyping in the same spirit as SpaceX starshipIt has to be said that founder Jared Matthews is a former SpaceX.he also passed jet propulsion laboratory and committed to Mars Rover on the lunar rover concept Constellation Project, the ancestor of the Artemis program.The key word is “iteration”, that is, in modeling As traditional manufacturers often do.

Astrolab is not the first new space Try a lunar adventure. For several years, NASA has invited New Space to come forward with innovative proposals for the Artemis program.When NASA chooses starship SpaceX, as the only lunar lander, also through the CLPS program (Commercial Lunar Payload Services). The California startup aims to join the Artemis adventure with Flex. But having a real model is a long way off, and it may need to scale up (Astrolab has 15 employees) and secure its financing.

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