The future electric vehicle that explores the lunar surface in the next missions Nasa could work with the same ultium batteries that power electric cars General Motors. The association between GM and Lockheed Martin aims to compete with various competitors to build the lunar electric vehicles who will participate in the future NASA Artemis missions. Of this vehicle powered by Ultium batteries, which should last 10 years and be able to undertake different missions in unknown terrain Technology will be leveraged for future General Motors ground vehicles.
More than half a century after Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon, NASA’s next vehicle to explore the lunar landscape could be powered by the same Ultium batteries as General Motors electric vehicles. If selected, the lunar rover resulting from the collaboration between General Motors and Lockheed Martin, will be one of the fundamental centerpieces of NASA’s next Artemis missions, which intend to set foot on the Moon for the first time since 1972.
The GM-Lockheed partnership will compete with several competitors for the Artemis contract, including the Nissan North America with Sierra Space and Teledyne who also started the task of designing this new lunar rover. In 1971, NASA launched a lunar exploration vehicle built by General Motors and Boeing for the Apollo missions. GM and Lockheed designers and engineers claim to have studied the work of their predecessors before beginning their task. Artemis’ first mission could be launched This yearfollowed by several more complex missions which will last until the middle of the decade.
General Motors’ Artemis team simulated the operation of the original rover by a virtual lunar environment and designed the latest vehicle from it, said Brent Deep, GM’s chief engineer for the Lunar Mobility Program. “They succeeded with their designs,” he added. “I’m proud to be a part of what they were in the past and try to push myself to make things a little better, a little safer, and to develop more technology for space exploration.”
The lunar vehicle of the Artemis missions must guarantee a durability of at least 10 years in space and be able to encompass multiple missions and tasks. On the moon, there are 14 consecutive days of darkness followed by 14 days of light. Gravity is about one-sixth that of Earth, and abrasive moon dust can obscure astronauts’ space suits and gear. According to Lockheed, the vehicle should operate in temperatures ranging from -173°C (-280ºF) y 126C (260ºF).
Deep says it’s necessary to “create a whole new spec because no one has ever created a sustainability environment for the moon: we’re going to push our Ultium batteries into the toughest environment an electric vehicle battery has never seen”. GM engineers will learn how to monitor batteries and ensure they perform in this environment and continue to deliver range, capacity and reliability. “And after those same batteries will be in our Ultium products here on Earth”.
Much of the virtual testing that General Motors used for the lunar mission was set up to test the electric hummer, the main representatives of its new range of electric vehicles. The Hummer battery edition 1built on the Ultium architecture of three electric motors, provides the framework needed to achieve and the capabilities that It wouldn’t be possible implement with conventional vehicle architecture and propulsion system.
Is composed of bag cells large format that can be stacked vertically or horizontally inside the battery. In Edition 1, the modules are mounted on two layers of vertical cells to generate the combined package which offers an estimated range of 560 kilometres. It also includes the wireless battery management system of General Motors. The BMS (Battery Management System, for its acronym in English) is an electronic system that manages the charging and discharging of a battery and cuts the length of the cables passing through it by 90%. He has a 800 volt electrical system which can change the working voltage from native 400 V to 800 volts by means of a disconnection unit and a mechanical system that allow the the battery goes from parallel to series.
The development of the Hummer was largely based on perform simulations for two years, in the coronavirus pandemic, compared to the three to four years it takes most other vehicle testing programs. The Hummer “has a lot of characteristics of what a tame lunar rover will be,” Deep said. A prototype that can be tested in a real situation is not manufactured for this vehicle. The good experience acquired in the virtual development of the Hummer will be applied to that of the lunar roverr.
GM and Lockheed designed the lunar rover to travel on the moon’s uneven surface by taking advantage of the Hummer’s all-terrain capabilities, says GM design director Jeff Nield. “Tenemos que ser capaces de atravesar craters y rocas, una combinación de surfaces muy duras y con un polvo fino muy suave”, dijo Nield. “En la Tierra, tienes suelo, arena y roca, pero el polvo lunar es incluso más fino que the sand”.
Navigating the lunar surface could also help advancing autonomous technology from General Motors for its ground vehicles, says Lisa Talarico, the program’s engineering manager. Today, autonomous systems are guided by an existing roadmap and must avoid obstacles such as pedestrians and other cars making unexpected movements. On the moon, GM can create a map while simultaneously driving the vehicle. This allows astronauts to be better informed on what is the best way to get to a certain place, what is the optimal path. The autonomous system would study the environment to generate a route that has many more degrees of freedom than on land. “We are off the road and there is more freedom of movement. There are no roads and therefore no rules for staying in a lane like on land.”
General Motors trusts NASA need a variety of space vehicles beyond the Artemis program. “I think this initial rover is really just the beginning for us,” Nield says. “Once we establish an infrastructure up there and deploy this first series of rovers, it could be a family of vehicles. We will start updates, replacements and improvements, and I hope it will continue forever.”