The US space agency NASA asks by the end of October for suggestions from the private sector. They should lead to a successor to the previous Astrovan. The iconic, shiny metallic bus that has been in use so far dates from 1983 and has only one task. It is supposed to drive space travelers from their quarters on the grounds of the spaceport Kennedy Space Center in the US state of Florida to the launch pad and back over the 14.5 kilometer stretch.
The Astrovan is now very old and should be replaced by a modern vehicle in the course of the upcoming Artemis mission. Nasa can imagine a completely new vehicle as well as the conversion of the existing Astrovan to modern, above all emission-free technology.
Nasa is aware of the great emotional importance of the Astrovan
It is particularly important to NASA that the new proposals do justice to the importance of the vehicle. As the space agency emphasizes in its invitation to tender, the sight of the “shiny silver” Astrovan with its “eye-catching NASA logo”, which brings “intrepid researchers” to the launch pad, always triggered “pride and enthusiasm”. The authority expects the same from a successor. He must build on this legacy and “modernize it for a new generation at the same time”.
The proposals should be unique, incorporate new technologies and visually embody Artemis for the public, according to NASA. The vehicle must have space for eight people, including four fully equipped crew members. The agency describes further details in a dedicated catalog of requirements.
Switching to a new Astrovan is part of the Artemis mission. With Artemis, NASA will bring “the first woman and the first colored person” to the surface of the moon and establish long-term exploration of the moon in preparation for manned missions to Mars. For this purpose, NASA developed the Orion spaceship and the SLS rocket. The landing concept is to be supplemented by a gateway in the lunar orbit.