NASA receives new ‘Astrovans’ for Artemis missions
A fleet of three all-electric vehicles was delivered to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to serve as the final terrestrial transportation for Artemis astronauts before boarding the Orion spacecraft to fly to the Moon.
Built by Canoo Technologies Inc. of Torrance, California, the vehicles arrived July 11, 2023, a little more than a year after NASA awarded the company the contract in April 2022. The vehicles will transport Artemis program astronauts from the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building to Launch Complex 39B to board an Orion spacecraft on top of the massive Space Launch System rocket.
“The collaboration between Canoo and our NASA representatives focused on the crews’ safety and comfort on the way to the pad ahead of their journey to the Moon,” Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, NASA’s Artemis launch director, said in an agency news release. “I have no doubt everyone who sees these new vehicles will feel the same sense of pride I have for this next endeavor of crewed Artemis missions.”
NASA said the vehicles were specially designed to meet the needs of the Artemis program and are able to carry four astronauts wearing Orion crew survival system suits along with supporting personnel and suit technicians and specialized equipment.
These new vehicles pay tribute to NASA’s legacy human spaceflight program, including decals showing the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. Their designs, NASA said, were chosen by a team that included the Artemis launch director and representatives from the astronaut office at Johnson Space Center in Houston.
In addition to its primary purpose of transporting astronauts to the launch pad, these vehicles will also be used for training exercises before missions.
The Artemis 2 crew will be the first to use these new “Astrovans.” They include NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover and Christina Koch, as well as Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen. As early as November 2024, they will ride these vehicles from the Operations and Checkout Building all the way to Launch Complex 39B, a distance of some 9 miles (15 kilometers).
Artemis 2 will see these four astronauts launch in an Orion spacecraft atop a Space Launch System rocket. They will then perform a 10-day test flight mission that includes a flyby of the Moon. They will be the first to see the Moon up close since the end of the Apollo program in 1972.
“We are thrilled to be a part of the Artemis missions and to deliver NASA’s first zero-emission built for mission crew transportation vehicles,” Tony Aquila, chairman and CEO of Canoo, said in a statement. “It’s a very proud day for Canoo and all of our partners who worked so hard to ensure we perform our part to transport the astronauts for the first nine miles of every launch.”
Videos courtesy of Canoo
Derek Richardson has a degree in mass media, with an emphasis in contemporary journalism, from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. While at Washburn, he was the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also has a website about human spaceflight called Orbital Velocity. You can find him on twitter @TheSpaceWriter.