When astronauts leave their crew quarters at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for their lunar mission, NASA’s Artemis II crew will ride in a new set of wheels: A fleet of shiny crew transportation vehicles provided by Canoo Technologies Inc., will take them to Launch Pad 39B for their historic ride aboard the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft.
The fleet will consist of three vehicles 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.
The new transports will be based on the company’s all-electric LV models, customized for NASA’s unique needs. For example, the vehicles are required to seat eight, including four fully suited crew members.
The futuristic transports with pod-shaped exteriors will be an environmentally friendly solution, using zero-emissions technology for the next generation of explorers. They are replacing the agency’s Astrovan fleet, the gleaming silver 1983 Airstream vehicles that carried space shuttle crews to the launch pad.
The most visible use of the Artemis crew transportation vehicles will be to carry crew from the Astronaut Crew Quarters to Launch Pad 39B. However, the vehicles also will be used to support other prelaunch operations as well as training and launch countdown rehearsal tests.
This is actually a pretty big break for Canoo. The five-year-old EV startup has been designing these futuristic, modular, pod-looking vehicles for consumers, though it really hasn’t had any traction outside of a government contract awarded in exchange for Canoo to build its manufacturing plant in Oklahoma.
That being said, Canoo still has some troubles to work through if it wants to string together more successes. In 2021, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission opened a “fact-finding inquiry” into Canoo over its SPAC merger.
Additionally, two high-ranking vice presidents recently took their leave from Canoo in February, including the company’s VP of manufacturing and VP of investor relations. Not long before, two co-founders, the chief technology officer, and chief marketing officer also departed from the company.
Canoo will deliver the fleet to the spaceport no later than June 2023 to support these operations