Astrolab’s FLEX Rover to be Launched on Upcoming SpaceX Mission to the Moon03.31.23FLEX rover expected to be the largest and most capable rover ever to travel to the MoonHAWTHORNE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)—Today Venturi Astrolab, Inc. (Astrolab), announced it has reached an agreement with Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) for the company to transport Astrolab’s Flexible Logistics and Exploration (FLEX) rover on an upcoming mission to the Moon. SpaceX will use the Starship launch and landing system for this mission as soon as mid2026.Upon completion of this mission, Astrolab’s FLEX will become the largest and most capable rover to ever travel to the Moon. With a maximum combined rover and cargo mass of more than two tons, the FLEX rover is nearly three times the mass of its largest predecessor. This increased capacity provides significantly more opportunities to conduct scientific experiments and commercial endeavors on the lunar surface. Astrolab has already signed several customer agreements to carry payloads on this mission. The company expects to release details of these agreements later this spring. FLEX is more than a rover, it’s a logistics system for missions to the Moon and MarsHistorically, planetary rovers have been custom designed for each specific mission. These missions typically have occurred around once every ten years. But with the rapid increase in launch cadence along with the significant increases in payload capacity of launch vehicles, this bespoke approach to rover design is no longer practical or efficient.That’s why Astrolab designed the FLEX rover to transport and deploy payloads in a modular system. Astrolab seeks to prove the benefits of having a highly capable and versatile rover to establish infrastructure, conduct high-priority science, and deploy technology demos and other specialized systems on the lunar surface. Astrolab plans for this rover to be the first in a fleet of FLEX rovers on the lunar surface that will accelerate the vision of creating a permanent human presence on the Moon, and eventually Mars. “Our Astrolab team has created much more than a rover for use on the Moon or Mars,” said Jaret Matthews, Founder and CEO of Astrolab. “We’ve created a logistics system that can accommodate a wide variety of cargo. We expect that that this approach will help establish a permanent lunar outpost on the Moon at a lower cost and in less time than previously envisioned. We are delighted that this contract with SpaceX will allow Astrolab to demonstrate the advantages of the FLEX rover and its modular payload system.”“Starship is designed to transport large amounts of cargo, including rovers, to the Moon and Mars for research and exploration,” said Tom Ochinero, Senior Vice President, Commercial Business, SpaceX. “Developing sustainable outposts will require lunar logistics and transportation on the surface of the Moon, like what Astrolab offers. We look forward to working with the Astrolab team to deliver their FLEX Rover to the surface of the Moon.”In addition to being able to operate FLEX on the lunar surface from Earth, Astrolab designed the vehicle to serve as an unpressurized rover for a crew of two astronauts on the lunar surface. This design is compatible with NASA’s requirements for its Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV), the rover which will be a standard component to the agency’s Artemis program long-term. Testing is ongoingFLEX is more than just a concept. Last year, the Astrolab team began testing a full-scale, fullyfunctional terrestrial prototype of the FLEX rover in the California desert. Tests included both crewed and telerobotic operations, deployment of a variety of large payloads, science operations with its robotic arm, and engineering testing of the rover’s mobility performance in challenging terrain. Testing has continued in lunar analog sites around California throughout 2022 and into this year.To learn more about Astrolab, the FLEX rover, the details of our Mission 1, and how your cargo can accompany FLEX to the Moon in 2026 – please visit: astrolab.space. About AstrolabVenturi Astrolab, Inc. (Astrolab) is on a mission to move humanity forward to the next horizon by designing, building and operating a fleet of multi-purpose rovers for all planetary surface needs. Formed by a highly specialized team of NASA veterans, former SpaceXers and JPL engineers, Astrolab is laser-focused on providing adaptive mobility solutions essential for life beyond Earth. The team has industry leading experience in terrestrial and planetary robotics, electric vehicles, human spaceflight and more. Astrolab’s depth of experience and strategic partnerships with a wide array of world-class institutions, including electric vehicle pioneer Venturi Group, enables the delivery of Lunar and Mars mobility offerings at maximum reliability, flexibility and cost effectiveness. The company is headquartered in Hawthorne, California. For more information, visit astrolab.space and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram.
I know it's likely this is a rideshare, but is it actually confirmed?
Jaret Matthews, founder and chief executive of Astrolab, said in an interview that the mission, which will include 1,000 kilograms of customer payloads, will be the first flight of the FLEX rover. It will be a rideshare payload on a Starship mission landing somewhere in the south polar region of the moon.
A Starship landing on the moon in mid 2026 seems optimistic but it’s encouraging to see a growing lunar manifest.
Quote from: wannamoonbase on 04/01/2023 05:26 pmA Starship landing on the moon in mid 2026 seems optimistic but it’s encouraging to see a growing lunar manifest.Artemis III is supposed to fly in December 2025. It includes the second lunar landing of Starship HLS. The uncrewed Starship HLS demo is supposed to fly before then.If the FLEX landing in 2026 seems optimistic, then the entire Artemis program is even more optimistic.
Lunar rover developer Astrolab announced eight customers have signed contracts worth more than $160 million for its first mission to the moon in 2026.The company, formally known as Venturi Astrolab Inc., announced Nov. 21 that it signed the customers to fly payloads on Mission 1, a flight of the company’s Flexible Logistics and Exploration (FLEX) rover slated for as soon as mid-2026. Astrolab announced a contract with SpaceX in March to launch FLEX on that mission on a Starship commercial lander.<snip>Argo Space Corp., one of the customers of Mission 1, plans to fly a demonstration payload on the rover to test technology to extract low concentrations of water from lunar regolith. Astroport Space Technologies will send a payload to test how to sort lunar regolith to obtain grains best suited for producing lunar bricks as construction materials. Avalon Space will contribute an unspecified series of “science, exploration and sustainable development” experiments.Interstellar Lab will fly two small pods carrying plants that the rover will deploy on the lunar surface to see how the plants grow in the lunar environment. LifeShip will send a capsule carrying a DNA seed bank and data archive as part of that company’s effort to establish a seed bank on the lunar surface as an “off-world backup.”Three customers remain undisclosed for now, although Astrolab said in the statement those customers plan to disclose their participation closer to the launch. Astrolab is continuing to look for customers for Mission 1, noting that the FLEX rover has a payload capacity of 1,500 kilograms and a modular system for accommodating a range of payloads.
So thrilled to announce that our Mission LITTLE PRINCE to grow flowers on the Moon will fly with @Astrolab_Space on @SpaceX Starship Mission 1! Growing flower on the Moon and bring hope for a future full of life on Earth and beyond🚀🌸 #spacetech #backtothemoon