The bigger picture: FLEX Lunar Rover
Image credit: Cover Images
The Flexible Logistics and Exploration (FLEX) rover aims to be the transport of choice for a time when there is sustained human presence on the Moon and Mars.
From Californian company Venturi Astrolab, the FLEX vehicle displayed its prowess back in December by riding over the rugged California desert near Death Valley National Park during a five-day field test.
The four-wheeled, car-sized vehicle was piloted during the tests by retired Canadian astronaut and Astrolab advisory board member Chris Hadfield, and MIT aerospace graduate student Michelle Lin.
FLEX is designed for Nasa’s Artemis programme, aimed at returning humans to the Moon as early as 2025 and establishing a long-term lunar colony as a precursor to sending astronauts to Mars. It is designed as an all-purpose vehicle that can be driven by astronauts or remotely.
Built around a modular payload system inspired by conventional containerised shipping, FLEX weighs just over 1,100lb (500kg) and has a 3,300lb (1,500kg) cargo capacity. With its solar-powered batteries fully charged, the company claims it can drive two astronauts for up to eight hours, and has sufficient energy capacity to survive the extreme cold of a lunar night, up to 300 hours in total darkness, at the Moon’s south pole.
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