Charging Towards the Moon: NASA Receives Zero-Emission Vehicles for Artemis Missions

New NASA Astronaut Transportation Vehicles

Futuristic transports with pod-shaped exteriors will carry NASA’s Artemis II astronauts from their crew quarters to Launch Pad 39 B at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The vehicles will be designed to take the fully suited astronauts, their support team, and their equipment on the nine-mile stretch of road from the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building to the launch pad. Credit: Canoo

NASA has received a fleet of environmentally friendly electric vehicles from Canoo Technologies, set to transport Artemis mission crews to the launchpad, signifying a modern departure from the Astrovans of past space programs.

NASA has taken delivery of a fleet of vehicles that will transport Artemis crews for the last Earth-based stage of their lunar journey before boarding their rocket and spacecraft.

Canoo Technologies Inc., located in Torrance, California, provided NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida with three specially tailored, fully electric, environmentally friendly crew transportation vehicles on Tuesday, July 11. The zero-emission vehicles are equipped to carry four astronauts in their Orion crew survival system spacesuits, along with support staff, such as a spacesuit technician, and any necessary specialized equipment to Launch Pad 39B ahead of Artemis moon missions.

New NASA Artemis Crew Vehicle Fleet

With the Vehicle Assembly Building in the background, the three specially designed, fully electric, environmentally friendly crew transportation vehicles for Artemis missions arrived at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 11, 2023. The zero-emission vehicles, which will carry astronauts to Launch Complex 39B for Artemis missions, were delivered by the manufacturer, Canoo Technologies Inc. of Torrance, California. Credit: NASA/Isaac Watson

The vehicles have been customized to meet NASA’s specific requirements for the Artemis missions and also pay tribute to the history of the agency’s human spaceflight and space exploration initiatives. From the interior and exterior markings to the color and wheel wells of the vehicles, all aspects of the design were determined by a creative team that included the Artemis launch director and representatives from NASA’s Astronaut Office based at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. This team provided insight from the concept stage all the way through production. Canoo was contracted in April 2022 to manufacture the vehicles.

“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,” said Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, NASA’s Artemis launch director. “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.”

Historically, during launch operations at Kennedy for NASA’s Apollo and Space Shuttle Programs, the earlier Astrovans were the primary means of transporting crews from the astronauts’ crew quarters in the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building to the launch pad. While the path to the pad may look similar, the ride to get there has changed with the times.

Ahead of Artemis II, the first crewed mission under Artemis that will send four astronauts around the Moon and bring them home, the fleet will be used for astronaut training exercises at the spaceport. The approximately 10-day flight will test NASA’s foundational human deep space exploration capabilities, the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, for the first time with astronauts and will pave the way for lunar surface missions, including landing the first woman and first person of color on the Moon.

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