A startup named Astrolab has teamed up with SpaceX for its first venture into space. Announcing the news on Friday, Astrolab said that it has signed a contract with SpaceX reserving a spot on one of its Starships, which will be utilized to transport Astrolab’s Flex rover to the Moon.
Billing the Flex as the “largest and most capable rover ever to travel to the Moon,” the rover is three times the size of its largest predecessor and weighs two tons, according to Astrolab. The company says that the increase in size compared to past rovers will allow for a greater depth of scientific experimentation and more commercial endeavors. Astrolab has already set up agreements to transport multiple commercial payloads.
Along with carrying payloads, the rover is also designed to be able to accommodate two astronauts on the lunar surface, meeting NASA’s standards for an unpressurized rover.
“We’ve created a logistics system that can accommodate a wide variety of cargo,” Astrolab CEO Jaret Matthews said. “We expect 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.”
SpaceX will provide the launch and landing of the rover for a mission that could take place as soon as mid-2026. The Starship is designed to transport both cargo and people. Over the next few years, the company will work with Astrolab to figure out certain lunar logistics for the trip.
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