NASA finalizes three potential vehicles for Artemis V moon exploration mission

NASA has selected three companies to compete to land the next-generation Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV) that will be intended to be used during the Artemis V mission.

The 3 companies selected are Intuitive Machines, Lunar Outpost, and Astrolab. These companies will now compete to develop a lander for a demonstration mission ahead of Artemis V to validate its designs and safety for future astronauts. The study will take approximately a year before NASA makes its decision on the winner.

Here is a quick overview of each company’s designs.

Intuitive Machines

Intuitive Machines Moon Racer concept art (Credit Intuitive Machines)

The Moon Reusable Autonomous Crewed Exploration Rover (RACER) will be designed and tested by a team comprised of Intuitive Machines, AVL, Boeing, Michelin, and Northrop Grumman. If selected, the contract would be worth $1.6 billion. As part of the feasibility study, Intuitive Machines was awarded $30 million and as of this writing, the only company to acknowledge how much they were awarded for the first phase.

Lunar Outpost

Lunar Dawn concept art (Credit Lunar Outpost)

Lunar Outpost, Lockheed Martin, General Motors, Goodyear, and MDA Space will design and test the Lunar Dawn LTV. If selected, the total contract would be worth $1.7 billion.


FLEX concept art of the Artemis IV mission (Credit Astrolab)

Known as the Flexible Logistics and Exploration (FLEX) rover, it will be designed and tested by Astrolab, Axiom Space, and Odyssey Space Research. If selected, it would be among the highest bidders at $1.9 billion. However, SpaceX is aiming to land ahead of schedule during the Artemis IV mission with its Human Landing System Starship variant. The company already demonstrated a full-scale working prototype in 2022.

All 3 LTVs will also be capable of autonomous operations, allowing them to conduct scientific studies while waiting for the next astronauts to use them. When not being used by NASA missions, commercial companies will also be able to operate and perform their own science missions.

NASA could also issue additional orders for another rover through at least 2039.

What do you think of these potential Moon rovers and who do you think will be the ultimate contract winner to land the next generation Lunar Terrain Vehicle on the Moon?

Questions or comments? Shoot me an email at, or Tweet me @RDAnglePhoto.

Richard Angle: Launch journalist, specializing in launch photography. Based on the Space Coast, a short drive from Cape Canaveral and the SpaceX launch pads.
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