NASA Finds Its Astrovan Replacement In The EV Canoo
Canoo, an EV company known for its futuristic-looking vans, has been awarded a NASA contract to create the next generation of astronaut transport vehicles. Canoo has big shoes. The iconic NASA vans have been used to transport astronauts from the Apollo days through the Shuttle Era in their various versions. Since it was used only to transport astronauts to the launchpad, the famous silver Astrovan of the 1980s has racked up just 24,000 miles in 24 years.
NASA is preparing for the Artemis mission and the return of humans to the Moon. NASA follows its tradition and will transport astronauts to the launchpad in a customized van. Companies have been competing to win the NASA contract for a crew transport car since late 2021.
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According to Bloomberg, Canoo was chosen by NASA to construct the van to transport the Artemis crew to Mars and the Moon. This small EV startup could be the one to make the first official electric Astrovan. Canoo won a contract worth $147,855 to build at most one Artemis Crew Transportation Vehicle. It will have concrete seating and storage requirements as outlined by NASA.
From the LaunchPad to The Moon
NASA requested that the zero-emission ride have at least eight seats and a minimum range not exceeding 50 km. At least four astronauts must be accommodated in the vehicle, wearing complete flight suits. One driver, one suit technician, one flight operations director, and one protective services agent will accompany the car. NASA has its requirements and standards regarding equipment capacity and payload. The storage must be close to the seating area and easily accessible. Four bags will be used to store helmets and other equipment. There must be enough space for four ice-based cooling units and one Suit Technician equipment bag.
NASA states that Artemis must have large doors to allow crew members with appropriate skills to enter and exit the vehicle quickly. It also needs a secondary exit in case of an emergency. The Artemis mission vehicle must also be equipped with sufficient cooling and heating according to year-round Florida temperatures. Each of the four astronaut seats must be fitted with 12 VDC power connectors. NASA demands that Canoo deliver the van no later than June 2023. This is well in advance of Artemis 2’s planned test flight for 2024.