NASA is seeking industry proposals for a next-generation LTV (Lunar Terrain Vehicle) that will allow astronauts to go farther and conduct more science than ever before as they explore the south polar region of the Moon during Artemis missions.
Artemis astronauts will drive to explore and sample more of the lunar surface using the LTV than they could on foot. NASA will contract LTV as a service from industry rather than owning the rover. Contracting services from industry partners allows NASA to leverage commercial innovation and provide the best value to U.S. taxpayers while achieving its human spaceflight scientific and exploration goals.
“We want to leverage industry’s knowledge and innovation, combined with NASA’s history of successfully operating rovers, to make the best possible surface rover for our astronaut crews and scientific researchers,” said Lara Kearney, manager of NASA’s Extravehicular Activity and Human Surface Mobility program at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The LTV will function like a cross between an Apollo-style lunar rover and a Mars-style uncrewed rover. It will support phases driven by astronauts and phases as an uncrewed mobile science exploration platform, similar to NASA’s Curiosity and Perseverance Mars rovers. This will enable continued performance of science even when crews are not present on the lunar surface. Artemis astronauts will use the LTV to traverse the lunar surface and transport scientific equipment, extending the distances they can cover on each moonwalk.
Under the Lunar Terrain Vehicle Services request for proposals, NASA has provided requirements for companies interested in developing and demonstrating the LTV, including an approach that encourages companies to produce an innovative rover for use by NASA and other commer cial customers for multiple years.
Engineers will be able to operate the LTV remotely to transport cargo and scientific payloads between crewed landing sites, enabling additional science returns, resource prospecting, and lunar exploration. This will expand scientific research opportunities on the Moon during uncrewed operations, allow scientists to investigate future surface mission locations, and inform research goals and objectives for each site.
To handle the unique environment near the lunar South Pole, which includes permanently shadowed regions and extended periods without sunlight, the LTV will need to incorporate several systems to support both crewed and uncrewed operations. Some of the more critical systems include advanced power management, semi-autonomous driving, state-of-the-art communication and navigation systems, and protection from the extreme environment.
As part of the proposals, companies are required to provide end-to-end services, from development and delivery to the lunar surface, to execution of operations. Each rover must be able to carry two suited astronauts, accommodate a robotic arm or mechanism to support science exploration, and survive the extreme temperatures at the lunar South Pole. The company will be asked to successfully demonstrate the LTV in the lunar environment prior to using it in a crewed capacity.
NASA intends to use the LTV for crewed operations beginning with Artemis V in 2029. Prior to crew arrival, the rover will be used for uncrewed and commercial activities once it lands on the lunar surface.
Proposals for the LTV services contract are due July 10, 2023, with the contract award scheduled for November 2023. This request for proposals incorporates feedback from industry through a draft request for proposals and a previous request for information.
Through Artemis, NASA will send astronauts – including the first woman and first person of color – to explore the Moon for scientific discovery, economic benefits, and to build the foundation for crewed missions to Mars. Together, NASA’s Space Launch System rocket, Orion spacecraft, Gateway lunar orbital outpost, advanced spacesuits and rovers, and human landing systems are the agency’s foundation for deep space exploration.
Learn more about this request for proposals at:
United States Space Force: Protecting America’s Interests in Space
“Learn about the United States Space Force: its formation, purpose, and role in protecting national security and space assets.”
The United States Space Force (USSF) is the newest branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, established to protect American interests in space. It was formed on December 20, 2019, when President Donald Trump signed the United States Space Force Act, making it the first new independent military service in over 70 years.
While the concept of a Space Force had been discussed since the 1950s, the need for a dedicated space-focused military branch became increasingly evident with the growing importance of space in national security and defense. The USSF operates under the Department of the Air Force, similar to how the Marine Corps operates under the Department of the Navy. It is led by the Secretary of the Air Force and its military heads are the Chief of Space Operations and the Vice Chief of Space Operations.
The Space Force’s primary purpose is to ensure the freedom of operation in space and protect U.S. space assets. It is responsible for organizing, training, and equipping space forces, which are then deployed to the unified combatant commands, particularly the United States Space Command. The Space Force operates various programs and systems, including GPS, the Space Fence, military satellite communications constellations, X-37B spaceplanes, the U.S. missile warning system, the U.S. space surveillance network, and the Satellite Control Network.
The USSF’s formation marked a significant recognition of the critical role space plays in national security, communication, and technological advancement. As the world becomes increasingly reliant on space-based assets for navigation, communication, and intelligence gathering, the Space Force aims to protect these capabilities, deter aggression, and maintain superiority in space.
By establishing the Space Force, the United States has demonstrated its commitment to safeguarding its interests in space and maintaining its position as a global leader in space capabilities. As technology continues to advance and more nations venture into space, the United States Space Force will play a vital role in ensuring the security and resilience of American assets in this final frontier. Kindly click on the link for further details: https://www.spaceforce.mil/
Join Metro in Clearing the Air on California Clean Air Day
“Go Metro for FREE on California Clean Air Day! Clear the air by taking the bus, train, bike, or walking. Join us!”
Metro is excited to announce its support for California Clean Air Day and invites you to join us in our efforts to combat air pollution. On Wednesday, October 4, 2023, Metro is offering FREE rides on buses, trains, and bikes, encouraging everyone to take part in this important initiative. By choosing Metro as your mode of transportation, you can contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality in our region. Let’s take action together and make a positive impact on the health of our communities.
Air pollution affects us all, and it’s essential that we work collectively to address this issue. California Clean Air Day serves as a call to action, inspiring us to adopt sustainable transportation alternatives. Metro offers a range of options for you to participate in this day of action.
Choose the Bus or Train:
By taking the bus or train, you can significantly reduce your carbon footprint and help clear the air. Metro’s extensive network covers various destinations throughout the region, making it a convenient and eco-friendly choice. Enjoy a stress-free commute while actively contributing to a cleaner environment.
Walk or Ride a Bike:
For shorter distances, consider walking or riding a bike. Metro not only supports these active modes of transportation but also offers free rides on California Clean Air Day for Metro Bike Share and Metro Micro. Redeem your free rides using the provided codes and enjoy emissions-free travel while exploring your city.
Plan Your Trip:
To make your journey seamless, Metro provides a trip planner on metro.net. This tool helps you find the best routes, schedules, and connections, ensuring a smooth travel experience. Take advantage of this resource to optimize your trip and make the most of California Clean Air Day.
On October 4, let’s take a break from traffic and pollution by choosing Metro as our preferred mode of transportation. Together, we can make a difference in our communities and pave the way for cleaner air. Visit metro.net/cleanair to learn more about this initiative and how you can contribute. Join us in taking the pledge to clear the air and embrace sustainable transportation options. Remember, every journey counts towards a greener and healthier future. Visit Metro for more info: https://www.metro.net/about/california-clean-air-day-2023/
Record-Setting NASA Astronaut, Crewmates Return from Space Mission
After spending an American record-breaking 371 days in space, NASA astronaut Frank Rubio safely landed on Earth with his crewmates Wednesday.
Rubio departed the International Space Station, along with Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin, at 3:54 a.m. EDT, and made a safe, parachute-assisted landing at 7:17 a.m. (5:17 p.m. Kazakhstan time), southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.
“Frank’s record-breaking time in space is not just a milestone; it’s a major contribution to our understanding of long-duration space missions,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Our astronauts make extraordinary sacrifices away from their homes and loved ones to further discovery. NASA is immensely grateful for Frank’s dedicated service to our nation and the invaluable scientific contributions he made on the International Space Station. He embodies the true pioneer spirit that will pave the way for future exploration to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.”
Rubio launched on his first spaceflight on Sept. 21, 2022, alongside Prokopyev and Petelin. Rubio’s spaceflight is the longest single spaceflight by a U.S. astronaut, breaking the record previously held at 355 days by NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei.
During his mission, Rubio completed approximately 5,936 orbits and a journey of more than 157 million miles, roughly the equivalent of 328 trips to the Moon and back. He witnessed the arrival of 15 visiting spacecraft and the departure of 14 visiting spacecraft representing crewed and uncrewed cargo missions.
Rubio’s extended mission provides researchers the opportunity to observe the effects of long-duration spaceflight on humans as the agency plans to return to the Moon through the Artemis missions and prepare for exploration of Mars.
Rubio, Prokopyev, and Petelin launched aboard the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft but, due to a coolant leak, returned to Earth aboard the Soyuz MS-23. The affected Soyuz MS-22 capsule returned without its crew after the Soyuz MS-23 capsule launched as a replacement on Feb. 23, 2023.
Following post-landing medical checks, the crew will return to Karaganda, Kazakhstan. Rubio will then board a NASA plane bound for his return to Houston.
During his record-breaking mission, Rubio spent many hours on scientific activities aboard the space station, conducting a variety of tasks ranging from plant research to physical sciences studies.
With the undocking of the Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft, Expedition 70 officially began aboard the station. NASA astronauts Loral O’Hara and Jasmin Moghbeli remain aboard the orbital outpost alongside ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Andreas Mogensen, who became station commander Sept. 26, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Satoshi Furukawa, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Konstantin Borisov, Oleg Kononenko, and Nikolai Chub.
Mogensen, Moghbeli, Furukawa, and Borisov will return to Earth in February 2024, after a short handover with the crew of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 mission. O’Hara is scheduled to return to Earth in March 2024, while Kononenko and Chub will spend a year aboard the station, returning in September 2024.
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