NASA wants to put people on the Moon again in 2025 with its Artemis program, but it decided to outsource the creation of a vehicle that would transport astronauts to the launch pad. Two years ago when it announced the contract opportunity, NASA said it needed a street legal vehicle capable of carrying four fully-equipped astronauts, as well as three additional people and a driver.
The vehicle also needed to have room for cargo, two cubic feet per person, as per NASA’s specifications, as well as two large doors for easy entry and exit of fully suited astronauts. It also needs to take 4 equipment bags, one for each astronaut, 4 ice-based cooling units, an additional equipment bag and 1 pad transfer bag.
Range is not a major concern for this transporter - the brief states that it needs to have over 50 miles of range, and that it has to be able to run emissions-free. The contract actually states that both fully electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles were eligible for the role.
Another important detail was the fact that NASA was interested both in vehicles that were specifically designed for the task, as well as commercially available vehicles that could be modified to work for the role. Interestingly, NASA also mentioned it was considering repairing and using the Government-owned 1983 custom Airstream transport vehicle, although we don’t know if they were also planning to convert it into an EV too.
Canoo will surely make a special version of its five-door electric minivan we’ve already seen, although we don’t actually think it’s going to be as big as the Shuttle era Astrovan. The Canoo Lifestyle Vehicle has a range of 250 miles (400 km) from an 80 kWh battery pack, and a single 250 kW (335 hp) rear electric motor that pushes it to sixty in 6.3 seconds.
The contract is worth $148,855 and Canoo will have to deliver the vehicle to NASA in June of 2023.