Lockheed Martin, General Motors Team to Further Lunar Exploration with Autonomous Moon Rover
Only 5% of the Moon’s surface has been explored by the human race, and to reach the other 95%, NASA astronauts on the Artemis program are going to need some serious wheels.
That’s why Lockheed Martin and General Motors have teamed up to design the next generation of lunar rovers, capable of transporting astronauts across farther distances on the lunar surface. Unlike the Apollo days when the rovers only traveled four miles from the landing site, Artemis astronauts will go farther and explore more of the Moon’s surface than ever before to conduct critical scientific research.
This type of mobility is a huge step – or a giant leap – toward enabling and sustaining long-term exploration of the lunar surface. The science that Artemis astronauts will conduct will help NASA better understand the fundamental planetary processes underlying our solar system, and will help us better understand and protect Earth.
Not only will these vehicles be well-equipped to go the distance, they will also be driver optional. Autonomous, self-driving systems would enable the vehicle to operate with or without humans onboard, and pave the way for future human missions, commercial payload services and enhanced scientific utility.
“These next-generation rover concepts will dramatically extend the exploration range of astronauts as they perform high-priority science investigation on the Moon that will ultimately impact humanity’s understanding of our place in the solar system,” said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Space.
A Lockheed Martin-GM rover would be able to preposition itself autonomously near a landing site prior to the astronauts’ arrival, and astronauts would have the ability to task the rover from the Human Landing System or the orbiting lunar Gateway to conduct science operations without a driver. This enables NASA to fit more science into a smaller amount of time, and allows us to uncover the critical information that the other 95% of the lunar surface may hold.
Zooming on the Moon
Driving on the Moon is not your average off-roading experience. The new lunar rover concept would be expertly outfitted to drive over rugged terrain in the dark and cold.
Unlike Earth and even Mars, days and nights on the Moon are just under 14 days long. The Lockheed Martin-GM rovers would be designed to survive and even operate in the two-week long night that sees temperatures of down to -280 degrees Fahrenheit, and day-time temperatures of 260 Fahrenheit.
“The biggest difference is, when you design for the Moon and for space applications, the force of gravity is different and has to be taken into account,” said Madhu Raghavan, Global Research & Development Group Manager at GM. “There are extreme temperature swings, and the radiation in space becomes a challenge in terms of systems design. You’re also operating in a vacuum and designing your systems to withstand the shock of the actual launch.”
The vehicles’ design would expertly mitigate these challenges. Lockheed Martin has built multiple deep space robotic spacecraft that have gone to the Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Venus, asteroids, comets and other destinations throughout the solar system.
“We’ve led missions to other planetary bodies for decades, building spacecraft that can survive the high radiation environment, cold temperatures, and yet be very light and very reliable,” said Kirk Shireman, vice president, Lunar Exploration Campaigns at Lockheed Martin. “This is what we specialize in, and we are more than capable of meeting and exceeding this challenge for NASA.”
A Dynamic Duo
With both brains and brawn, the Lockheed Martin-GM alliance brings together innovations from both companies to make transformative vehicles, drawing on strong legacies of engineering and performance from both companies.
“GM is a world leader in automobile manufacturing and technology, and Lockheed Martin is a world leader in spacecraft. The two companies joining forces to build a mobility system on the Moon just makes perfect sense.”
Kirk Shireman, vice president, Lunar Exploration Campaigns at Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin will lead the team by leveraging its legacy and history working with NASA.
“Our goal is to build a vehicle that is affordable, that exceeds our customer requirements, and to do it rapidly. Digital tools are how we achieve that,” Shireman said. “We’ve demonstrated already across programs and proposals the speed, affordability and reliability that digital tools enable, and we fully expect to leverage and expand on that experience with this program.”
GM brings to the table decades of experience designing for on and off-road environments, a strong focus on quality and human safety, and a shared mission.
“There’s a lot of synergy between our two companies – we complement each other well,” said Jeff Ryder, vice president, Growth & Strategy at GM Defense. “The lunar rover designs for extreme off-road environments have a lot of similarities with our tactical military vehicles on the GM Defense side. It’s great to work with a company like Lockheed Martin who has a shared mission of supporting the warfighter.”
GM brings to the table state-of-the-art battery-electric technologies and propulsion systems that are central to the company’s extensive electric vehicle strategy. Research from the development of battery and power systems for the lunar rover may ultimately spur advances on electric vehicles back on Earth, too.
“Because the operating conditions are so extreme in space, our work on this project will help us make safer and better batteries back on Earth,” Raghavan said. “The Moon and Mars are, of course, totally unstructured, unlined roads. Designing for that environment will ultimately just make our EV capabilities on Earth that much stronger.”
Enabling a Celestial Human Future
As it was during the Apollo era, every minute of the Artemis astronauts’ time on the lunar surface will be carefully planned in order to maximize the science value of having humans back on the lunar surface for the first time since 1972.
So, what is NASA hoping to uncover on the uncharted territory that remains of the Moon? The Moon is often referred to as the cornerstone of the solar system. Scientific investigations on the Artemis program will help NASA understand the risks and potential resources of the Moon’s South Pole, where they hope to establish the Artemis Base Camp concept by the end of the decade.
“The technology has evolved so much in the last 50 years, to the point where we can now use autonomy for these vehicles to aid in the astronauts’ missions,” Shireman said. “Autonomy will enable these rovers to carry tools and samples, and allows the crews to do more in the time they have there on the surface.”
To achieve our ultimate goal of utilizing the resources on the Moon to sustain a human presence, Shireman says we’ll need to have a reliable way of transporting those resources. This is the first major step in that direction.
“I’ve worked on many space programs in the past, but this isn’t just another space mission,” said Ryder. “It’s the return to, and permanent habitation of the Moon. It’s not just cool or interesting –it’s historical. It’s a major milestone in human activity in space.”
According to Raghavan, he’s seen a major influx of job applicants for open positions on his project team. “This is the stuff you dream about as a kid in science class,” he said. “People want to be part of this.”
Illustration of NASA astronauts on the lunar South Pole. Credit: NASA
Other scientific activities that surface mobility could enable include field geology, sample collection and return, and deployed experiments. These investigations are conducted in the hopes that they may increase our understanding of how the Moon formed and evolved, how it interacts with the Sun, and how water and other resources arrived at the Moon, and how they are transported and preserved.
These are all questions that, once answered, will help us sustain life on the Moon. The Lockheed Martin-GM team stands re
ady to autonomously chauffeur the astronauts to the dark regions of the Moon to advance our human future in space.
“I always think about alliances, and how you have to start with something real,” Ryder said. “As we go do this, it’ll likely lead to additional opportunities. It’s a great pathway going forward, and I’m sure there will be more opportunities for our two companies to come together to further human spaceflight.”
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RENEWABLE FUEL TO POWER CONTINENTAL GT3 TO THE CLOUDS – BENTLEY’S 2021 PIKES PEAK RACER UNVEILED
Bentley launches new sustainability initiative with return to Pikes Peak
“Continental GT3 Pikes Peak” to run on renewable fuel
Modified race car to be the most dynamic Bentley ever built
Bentley bids for triple crown of Pikes Peak records
Targeting Time Attack 1 record, to add to Production SUV and Production Car records attained in 2018 and 2019
Former King of the Mountain Rhys Millen returns to drive for Bentley
Car developed in conjunction with GT3 customer team Fastr
Pikes Peak International Hill Climb to take place on 27 June 2021
(Crewe, April 2021) Bentley has today launched a major new sustainability initiative, with the announcement of a renewable fuels research and development programme spearheaded by the most extreme road-car-based Bentley in its 101 year history. The Continental GT3 Pikes Peak, designed and built to compete for the Time Attack 1 record at this year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, will be the first competition Bentley to run on renewable fuel, ahead of a goal to offer sustainable fuels to Bentley’s customers around the world.
The modified Continental GT3 racer, based on Bentley’s race- and championship-winning car, will power its way through the 12.42-mile course running on a biofuel-based gasoline. Various blends of fuels are currently being tested and evaluated, with possible Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reductions of up to 85% over standard fossil fuel. This first step marks the start of a longer programme that will investigate both biofuels and e-fuels for their potential to power the Bentleys of past and present in a sustainable way.
Bentley’s ambitious and transformational Beyond100 programme will see the brand become the world’s leading sustainable luxury mobility company, with the entire Bentley model range offered with Hybrid variants by 2023 ahead of Bentley being BEV-only by 2030. The adoption of renewable fuel for this project signals the start of a long-term ambition for Bentley, initiating a research and development programme that aims to offer renewable fuels to Bentley customers in parallel to Bentley’s electrification programme. This two-strand strategy is set to maximise the pace of Bentley’s progress towards outright carbon neutrality, as part of its Beyond100 journey.
Combustion-engine Bentleys will still be produced for the next nine years – and Bentley’s new project aims to make those cars as sustainable as possible through the use of innovative fuel technologies. With more than 80% of all Bentleys ever built still on the road, a genuinely sustainable and customer-facing renewable fuel offering will also allow customers to enjoy their current and classic Bentleys responsibly for years to come.
Bentley’s Member of the Board for Engineering, Dr Matthias Rabe, comments:
“We are delighted to be returning to Pikes Peak for a third time – now powered by renewable fuel, as the launch project for another new element of our Beyond100 programme. Our powertrain engineers are already researching both biofuels and e-fuels for use by our customers alongside our electrification programme – with intermediate steps of adopting renewable fuels at the factory in Crewe and for our company fleet. In the meantime, the Continental GT3 Pikes Peak will show that renewable fuels can allow motorsport to continue in a responsible way, and hopefully it will capture the third and final record in our triple crown.”
Bentley’s pinnacle Pikes Peak project is being run in conjunction with British Continental GT3 customer team Fastr, who have successfully campaigned their Bentley race car in time attack competitions across the country. Technical teams from Bentley and Fastr are working together with specialists from M-Sport in Cumbria to extract the maximum possible performance from the Continental GT3 package, which will be run in Colorado by the same team and with assistance from K-PAX Racing.
To break the record, the car will have to complete the nearly 5,000 ft climb, which includes 156 corners, at an average speed of more than 78 mph to cross the finish line in less than nine minutes and 36 seconds. To help achieve this ambitious target, Bentley has once again turned to three-time Pikes Peak champion and former “King of the Mountain’ Rhys Millen (NZ) – who holds individual class records. It was with Millen that Bentley captured its two existing Pikes Peak records – the Production SUV record attained in 2018 with a Bentayga W12, and the outright Production Car record scored in 2019 with a Continental GT.
The Most Extreme Road-Car-Based Bentley in History
With the start line at 9,300 ft, the course climbs to 14,100 ft – where the air is 1/3 less dense than at sea level. This environment means that the Continental GT3 Pikes Peak features modifications both to its aerodynamics package and its engine, turning it into the most extreme iteration of a Continental GT – or indeed any Bentley road car – ever.
The biggest rear wing ever fitted to a Bentley dominates the rear of the car, sitting above a highly efficient rear diffuser that surrounds the transaxle gearbox. This rear aerodynamic package is balanced by a two-plane splitter at the front, flanked by separate dive planes.
The engine is Bentley’s proven racing power unit, developed from the 4.0-litre turbo V8 fitted to the Continental GT V8. For the Continental GT3 Pikes Peak, engine modifications together with the use of carefully selected biofuel will ensure the engine develops significant horsepower despite the rarefied conditions it will operate in. Short side-exit exhausts will ensure the car sounds as dramatic as it looks.
Further modifications include cooling air scoops in place of the rear windows, and the obligatory stopwatch mounted to the roll cage next to the steering wheel, to allow Rhys Millen to keep track of his sector times up the mountain.
The Continental GT3 Pikes Peak now enters a major test and development phase, based initially in the UK before being shipped to the USA for altitude testing. An update on the progress of the car will be issued in May, ahead of the 99th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on 27th June. More technical details about the Continental GT3 Pikes Peak will be released in due course.
Notes to editors
Bentley Motors is the most sought-after luxury car brand in the world. The company’s headquarters in Crewe is home to all of its operations including design, R&D, engineering, Mulliner and production of the company’s three model lines, Continental, Flying Spur, and Bentayga. The combination of fine craftsmanship, using skills that have been handed down through generations, alongside engineering expertise and cutting-edge technology is unique to UK luxury car brands such as Bentley. It is also an example of high-value British manufacturing at its best. Bentley employs around 4,000 people at Crewe.
https://www.myluxepoint.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Continental-GT3-Pikes-Peak-1.jpg6661000Carloshttps://www.myluxepoint.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/logo2v.pngCarlos2021-04-18 14:24:572021-04-18 14:24:57Renewable fuel to power continental GT3 to the clouds bentley's 2021 pikes peak racer unveiled
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