NASA has unveiled three new electric vehicles that will shuttle the next generation of lunar astronauts to the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center.
Developed by California-based EV startup Canoo Technologies, the eco-friendly minivan can carry up to four astronauts in their spacesuits.
It will also carry a crew like an astronaut, and special equipment needed at Launch Pad 39B for NASA’s Artemis missions to the moon. The first of these will be Artemis II, which will carry four astronauts for a flyby with our nearest neighbor in November 2024.
“The partnership between Canoo and our NASA representatives focused on the safety and comfort of the crew on the lunar mission,” said Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, NASA Artemis launch manager. he said in release. “I have no doubt that everyone who sees these new vehicles will be as proud as I am of the next Artemis project.”
Earlier launch operations at the Kennedy Space Center for NASA’s Apollo and Space Shuttle programs used so-called “Astrovans” to transport astronauts from the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building to the launch site.
“Although the path to the pad may look the same, the journey to get there has changed over time,” NASA said.
In the coming year, the new EVs will be used to train astronauts. And then, in 16 months, cars will have a big role in the transport the four astrologers of Artemis II to the recently tested SLS rocket, after which astronauts will board the Orion spacecraft for the first intermediate flight in fifty years.
The successful Artemis II mission will pave the way for the first lunar landing since 1973, and set NASA on the path to building a permanent space station with the goal of using the facility as a launch pad for the first manned mission to Mars. A journey that starts inside an EV from Earth and ends in a Mars lander will be an exciting one.