Starship to Carry Massive Jeep-Sized Rover to the Moon by 2026

2 min

SpaceX and Astrolab Join Forces for an Ambitious Lunar Mission

The Innovative FLEX Rover

Astrolab, an aerospace startup, has recently announced an agreement with SpaceX to transport its Flexible Logistics and Exploration (FLEX) rover to the Moon using SpaceX’s renowned Starship rocket. The FLEX rover is about the size of a Jeep, making it almost three times larger than its largest predecessor. This impressive size allows the rover to function as an unpressurized passenger vehicle, experimentation platform, and payload delivery vehicle all at once.

The FLEX rover comes equipped with a robotic arm, allowing it to set up its own payloads and act as a mobile distribution center for the Moon. Its underslung payload interface can carry up to three cubic meters of equipment, sample containers, and other items, making it an excellent choice for delivering other companies’ payloads to the lunar surface. Furthermore, up to two astronauts can ride the FLEX rover as it travels the Moon’s terrain at a speed of 15 miles per hour.

H2: Aiming for a Long-Term Presence on the Moon and Beyond

Astrolab’s ultimate goal is to help establish a long-term presence on the Moon and, eventually, on Mars. “Our Astrolab team has created much more than a rover for use on the Moon or Mars,” said Astrolab founder and CEO Jaret Matthews. “We’ve created a logistics system that can accommodate a wide variety of cargo. 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.”

Challenges and Timeline

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk initially hinted at Starship’s orbital test occurring in late 2022, with potential launch dates in February or March 2023. However, as of now, these windows have passed. Although Starship’s Ship 24 has been rolled out to Starbase’s orbital launch pad, the actual liftoff date remains uncertain.

Astrolab estimates that the FLEX rover will explore the Moon’s surface as early as mid-2026, fulfilling the startup’s goal of deploying the most capable lunar rover to date. However, this timeline depends on Starship proving viable in orbit before it can embark on its lunar mission.

Like it? Share with your friends!