NASA’s preparations for the Artemis moon mission has the agency enlisting the help of electric truck maker Canoo Inc.
(Photo : MARK FELIX/AFP via Getty Images)
NASA and Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronauts acknowledge the audience after their graduation ceremony at Johnson Space Center in Houston Texas, on January 10, 2020. – The 13 astronauts, 11 from NASA and 2 from CSA, are the first candidates to graduate under the Artemis program and will become eligible for spaceflight, including assignments to the International Space Station, Artemis missions to the Moon, and ultimately, missions to Mars, according to NASA.
Bloomberg reports that Canoo has been awarded a contract valued at $147,85 to build vehicles that will carry the Artemis astronauts to the launchpad. But aside from Artemis, Canno’s EVs will also be performing the same duties for NASA’s upcoming mission to Mars.
Furthermore, the new contract is expected to help Canoo boost its reputation, as well as deal with its multitude of recent problems. This includes a federal securities investigation, as well as increasing employee turnover. The contract was announced on the SAM.gov website, where it is listed as “Active” and officially awarded to the EV maker on March 31st.
But while Canoo isn’t going to build moon rovers for the Mars and Artemis moon missions, it is still contracted to build at least one EV to bring astronauts from their prep building to the launch pad. This includes both the rehearsal launches and the official launch day itself.
As such, the proposed EV will need to have a range of at least 50 miles and be able to seat eight people. So far, these eight folks haven’t been named yet, but there’s a total candidate pool of 18 astronauts from which NASA will make its final choices. Among these folks include nine women, among them one who could be the first woman to ever set foot on the moon.
NASA’s decision to tap Canoo, a relatively small EV maker compared to giants like Tesla, could be a big boon for the company. For one, crew transport vehicles are almost always used as promo ops for the manufacturers, since the vehicle will be at the forefront of the first step towards a major scientific milestone.
It was not indicated in the contract when the EV maker will produce at least the first prototype of their crew transport vehicle, though. But maybe it’s only a matter of time.
This NASA Contract Is Canoo’s Chance At The Big Leagues
As previously mentioned, Canoo is more or less unknown in an EV market dominated by Tesla and other more established names. Maybe that’s why the contract is quite small in terms of value, but this isn’t the only reason why the NASA contract could be a boon for its business.
The company, which is mostly just known for its electronic trucks, doesn’t make flashy-looking vehicles. At first glance, their EVs look plain to the eye-but much hides under those subtle visuals, as indicated by MotorTrend.
In a quick tour of Canoo’s manufacturing facility in Torrance, CA, it was revealed that one of the EV maker’s vehicles (a van which takes visual cues from classic 1960s VW minivans) features a so-called “skateboard platform,” a 300-horsepower motor, rear-wheel steering, a fully electric front steering, and 250-mile range.
Not to mention, there’s the question of talent drain which the startup has been experiencing this year. In another report by Bloomberg, it was revealed that the company has already lost several high-ranking executives in the midst of a federal investigation which authorities call a “fact-finding inquiry” (via The Verge).
The sight of a Canoo-made EV on the way to NASA’s Artemis moon mission launchpad could definitely do wonders for the electric truck/van maker’s image.
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Written by RJ Pierce
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