GM’s Ultium EV batteries could power NASA’s lunar rover

The lunar terrain vehicle for Artemis must be able to last at least 10 years in space and span multiple missions.

The first Artemis mission could launch this year, followed by several more complex missions through mid-decade.

The vehicle would have to operate in temperatures ranging from 260 to minus-280 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Lockheed. On the moon, there are 14 straight days of darkness followed by 14 days of daylight. Gravity is about one-sixth as powerful as on earth, and abrasive lunar dust can tarnish astronauts’ space suits and equipment.

“You’ve got to create a completely new specification because no one’s ever done a durability environment for the moon,” Deep said.

“We’re going to push our Ultium batteries into the harshest environment that an electric vehicle battery has ever seen. With that, we’ll understand how to control our batteries and make sure that they operate in that environment and continue to offer autonomous and human-operated driving capability and reliability. And then those same batteries will be in our Ultium products here on Earth.”

Much of the virtual testing GM has been using for the lunar mission was established for the 2022 GMC Hummer EV pickup.

The Hummer was developed largely through simulations during the coronavirus pandemic over just two years, compared with three to four years for most vehicle programs.

The Hummer “has a lot of the characteristics of what a lunar rover will be, tamed down,” Deep said.

“For the lunar rover, you can’t have a physical backup on some of these things because you can’t go drive a vehicle on the moon. Having that confidence from the virtual development on Hummer gives you a direct application to the lunar rover.”

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