Back on April 1, MC&T joked that General Motors would soon be mirroring the efforts of one Elon Musk by sending a GMC Hummer EV to the surface of the Moon. And while this was clearly intended to be little more than a fun holiday celebration, it turns out we may not have been entirely off-base. Yesterday, General Motors announced that they have teamed up with Lockheed Martin to develop the next-generation of lunar rovers for NASA’s upcoming Project Artemis. The lunar landers will certainly not be retro-fitted versions of the Hummer EV, but they will pack the same Ultium Battery technology that underpins the company’s electric vehicles. That is right folks, GM is heading to the Moon once again.
“This alliance brings together powerhouse innovation from both companies to make a transformative class of vehicles,” said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Space. “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 as they perform high-priority science investigation on the Moon that will ultimately impact humanity’s understanding of our place in the solar system.”
General Motors’ History In Space
For those who are unaware, General Motors actually played a huge role in NASA’s first missions to the Moon back in the 1960s. More specifically, the automaker manufactured the inertial guidance and navigation systems for the entire Apollo Moon program. Furthermore, the automaker would go on to develop the Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) that was used on Apollo’s 15-17 missions. More recently, GM created a robot that is used on the International Space Station. That is all to say that the automaker is no stranger to the great frontier. Combine this expertise with Lockheed Martin’s 50+ years of working alongside NASA, and the partnership is all but a no-brainer.
Project Artemis aims to explore and research parts of the Moon that we have never been to before. This program even intends to study the south pole of our closest neighbor, where scientists hope to find evidence of water. The terrain of this area is quite treacherous however, and will require a tough lunar rover to make it through. GM’s autonomous vehicle technology will be used by the rovers to help navigate this area efficiently, which is a great bit of marketing if you ask us.
A More Capable Lunar Rover
While GM and Lockheed Martin haven’t outlined specifics about the new lunar rovers quite yet, they have promised that they will be able to travel much further than before. General Motors’ original rovers were only able to go 4.7 miles from the landing site, which isn’t all that much even in space. The capabilities of the Ultium Battery system are far beyond what’s previously been employed however, and should be able to get the job done.
Sending American astronauts back to the Moon is a huge step for not only this nation, but all of mankind. We’re sure that this isn’t something that GM takes lightly, and that the engineers working on Project Artemis will make the most of this opportunity. We can’t wait to see what the two industrial giants are able to come up with, and how NASA chooses to employ the technology. So while we we’re wrong about which vehicle General Motors is sending to the Moon, we were partially right. From a certain point of view at least, as everyone’s favorite space wizard would say.