Skip to main content

These new NASA EVs will drive astronauts part way to the moon (sort of)

NASA's new crew transportation electric vehicles.
Three specially designed, fully electric, environmentally friendly crew transportation vehicles for Artemis missions arrived at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida this week. The zero-emission vehicles, which will carry astronauts to Launch Complex 39B for Artemis missions, were delivered by Canoo Technologies of Torrance, California. NASA/Isaac Watson

NASA has shown off a trio of new all-electric vehicles that will shuttle the next generation of lunar astronauts to the launchpad at the Kennedy Space Center.

Designed by California-based EV startup Canoo Technologies, the environmentally friendly minivan is able to carry four astronauts in their launch spacesuits.

They’ll also transport personnel such as a spacesuit technician, and specialized equipment needed at Launch Pad 39B for NASA’s crewed Artemis missions to the moon. The first of these will be Artemis II, which will carry four astronauts on a fly-by of our nearest neighbor in November 2024.

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

Earlier launch operations at the Kennedy Space Center for NASA’s Apollo and Space Shuttle programs used the so-called “Astrovans” to transport astronauts from the crew quarters in the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building to the launchpad.

“While the path to the pad may look similar, the ride to get there has changed with the times,” NASA said.

Over the next year or so, the fleet of new EVs will be used for astronaut training exercises at the spaceport. And then, in 16 months’ time, the vehicles will play a major role as they transport the four Artemis II astronauts to the recently tested SLS rocket, after which the spacefarers will climb aboard the Orion spacecraft for the first crewed lunar flight in five decades.

A successful Artemis II mission will pave the way for the first crewed lunar landing since 1973 and set NASA on course to building a permanent astronaut base there with a view to using the site as a launchpad for the first human mission to Mars. A journey that starts inside an Earth-based EV and ends inside a Mars lander will certainly be something to savor.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
How NASA’s astronaut class of 1978 changed the face of space exploration
Sally Ride NASA

When you look back on the long history of crewed spaceflight, one group stands out for its radical challenge to the conventional wisdom of who could become an astronaut. NASA's astronaut class of 1978 saw not only its first women and people of color working as astronauts such as Sally Ride and Guy Bluford, but also the first Asian American astronaut, El Onizuka, the first Jewish American astronaut, Judy Resnik, and the first LGBT astronaut, once again Sally Ride.

A new book, The New Guys: The Historic Class of Astronauts That Broke Barriers and Changed the Face of Space Travel, chronicles the story of this class and its impact on both NASA and the wider world’s perceptions of who could be an astronaut. We spoke to the author, Meredith Bagby, about this remarkable group of people and how they changed the face of human spaceflight.
Breaking the mold
Throughout the 50s and 60s, NASA almost exclusively chose fighter pilots for its early human spaceflight program, Project Mercury. That meant that not only were astronaut groups like the famous Mercury Seven entirely composed of white men, but they also came from very similar military backgrounds.

Read more
This EV charging tech does the job as you drive
Workers building a road that charges electric vehicles wirelessly.

While batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) are improving all the time, and more charging stations are continuing to come online, range anxiety is still an issue for some folks. For others it can simply be a hassle waiting for an EV to charge, especially if you need to be somewhere in a hurry.

Auto giant Stellantis is testing a potential solution for these issues in the form of a wireless charging technology that does the job as you drive.

Read more
See NASA’s new SLS moon rocket on its way to the launchpad
NASA's SLS rocket on its way to the launchpad.

NASA’s next-generation Space Launch System (SLS) rocket has exited the Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building and is now inching its way toward the launchpad for the first time.

Once it reaches Pad 39B, NASA’s most powerful rocket to date will undergo several test procedures ahead of its first lunar mission in May as part of the Artemis program.

Read more