SpaceX to fly an Astrolab rover to the Moon in 2026

  • SpaceX is seemingly fielding bookings for flights to the Moon before its Starship has achieved orbital flight.
  • Among those bookings is Venturi Astrolab which has booked a flight for its FLEX rover.
  • The FLEX rover is described as logistics tool and rover, and billed as the next step in colonising the Moon and eventually Mars.

Despite not having achieved an orbital launch, spacefaring firms are lining up to catch a lift to the cosmos with SpaceX’s Starship.

Last week Venturi Astrolab announced that it had reached an agreement with SpaceX regarding the transportation of its Flexible Logistics and Exploration (FLEX) rover on an upcoming mission to the Moon. This mission will happen as soon as 2026.

The rover, according to the firm, is more than just astronaut transport, it’s a multi-purpose vehicle. Think of it as an SUV, but for other planets.

“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,” explained Astrolab founder and CEO, Jaret Matthews.

Astrolab has designed FLEX to be modular. This would allow the vehicle to conduct both crewed and semi-autonomous operations, provided it makes it through a battery of tests which are ongoing. A robotic arm could assist astronauts with loading and unloading materials and gear on the Moon.

The firm envisions a fleet of these FLEX rovers on the Moon assisting in the establishing of lunar infrastructure which would, according to experts, be the first step in exploring and potentially colonising the galaxy.

“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,” senior vice president of SpaceX’s commercial business, Tom Ochinero said in a statement.

Of course, Starship needs to achieve orbital flight before it’s heading anywhere further. To that end, SpaceX reportedly aims to launch Starship to orbit later this month.

With this launch of Astrolab’s rover three years away, there is still time for SpaceX to fine-tune its super-heavy rocket and make sure it’s ready for the journey to the Moon and eventually Mars. However, as customers start lining up for launch services, the pressure is on SpaceX to get things moving faster especially given the red-tape the Federal Aviation Authority could impose on the firm.

The firm is currently fielding bookings to transport 1 500kg of cargo aboard the flight to the Moon. What exactly this cargo will include is unclear but you can contact the firm should you have an idea of what the firm should fly to the Moon.

[Source – Astrolab]


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