NASA’s Artemis program has teamed up with Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency to create the next generation lunar vehicle — one that is being described as an ‘RV for the moon.’
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In the late 2000’s, NASA proposed a concept for a futuristic space vehicle known as the Lunar Electric Rover or LER. It was set to be the first pressurized, 6 wheel omni-drive lunar vehicle enabling astronauts to go on longer research exploration missions. It was customized with a mobile workspace and  other really cool features like a shower and a Suitport allowing the astronauts to get in their space suits from inside the vehicle.
This was implemented because lunar surface contamination was a real issue in the Apollo program and sometimes dust could damage the instruments or even get into an astronaut’s lungs. The LER prototype made a public appearance at the Obama inauguration as well as performed several test runs in the Arizona desert. It seemed to hit everything we were looking for, distance, energy efficiency, and adaptability.
However, the LER never actually made it to the moon, the program was canceled in 2010 as a part of the larger Constellation Program because of delays and over spending. Now, let’s start talking about the new and improved vision from JEDI. Not only does this agreement bring two major players to the table, but it also describes the plans for both Lunar Gateway and lunar surface exploration. This is a huge accomplishment considering JAXA has already begun developing a self-driving, pressurized lunar rover, with the help of a major car company.
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“A senior lunar scientist who participated in the meeting, Notre Dame’s Clive Neal, said the announcement that Japan would now lead the development of a pressurized habitat on the Moon came as a surprise.”
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“Having a place to camp out on the lunar surface — even for a couple of weeks — would mark NASA’s first step toward setting up a longer-term base on the moon. And, let’s face it: it also just sounds plain awesome.”
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“In the decades since the end of the Apollo program, engineers have looked to the LRVs for cues on how to develop current and future manned and robotic rovers.”
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