Updated: Sep 26, 2022
When NASA originally announced they were going to buy (3) CTVs from Canoo to transport astronauts to the launch pad, there were a flurry of articles from a broad range of news sources about it, and generally they were all mostly correct. Where they were all wrong, in my opinion, is their interpretation of NASA's Request For Quote regarding seating capacities. But before getting to that, lets start from the beginning.
Actually, before the beginning, lets get some acronyms out of the way:
CTV(s)...Crew Transport Vehicle(s)
EGS or LX...Exploration Ground Systems
KSC...Kennedy Space Center
LCC...Launch Control Center
RFQ...Request for Quote
The mission of NASA's EGS Program is to Build. Launch. Recover. ESG wanted to augment this mission with a transportation solution to serve as the Artemis CTV for transporting
the NASA Artemis Astronauts from the suiting up facility in the O&C to the Launch Pad on launch day at KSC, as well as during test operations prior to launch at the VAB and LCC.
NASA originally considered 3 possible scenarios for procuring the CTV(s)
Non-commercial option: specially designed and manufactured vehicle
Commercial option: commercially available vehicle which can be modified to meet the requirements
Repair/refurbishment option: Refurbishment of the Government-owned 1983 custom Airstream transport vehicle.
After performing market research, they decided they preferred the first option: a designed and manufactured vehicle specifically for NASA. Although they were still open to the idea of modifying something that was already commercially available, they did decide they would no longer entertain the idea of refurbishing the Airstream.
ARTEMIS CTV(S) TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS
All proposals to provide the designed and manufactured option to NASA would require that the CTV(s) proposed would meet the following:
be Zero emission: battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric, or fuel cell electric in accordance with Executive Order 14037, Strengthening American Leadership in Clean Cars and Trucks.
be certified in accordance with NHTSA standards
"visually embody Artemis" to NASA and the public while also transporting the personnel in a safe and secure manner(ie: NHTSA standards)
come equipped with a primary access point of no less than 24-inch to 36-inch width to serve as the primary personnel ingress and egress.
come equipped with a secondary access point of no less than 24-inch to 36-inch width to serve as the secondary personnel ingress and egress in an emergency situation or failure of the primary access point.
provide environmental conditioning (cooling and heating) inside the main cabin to maintain passenger comfort for year-round, central Florida average temperatures.
have 12VDC power connector available for each astronaut rated to a minimum of ten (10) amps.
per given specifications, each bidder would also need to provide a design concept on what the vehicles graphics would look like with the purpose of inspiring NASA personnel and the public.
come with Operator Manuals
designed to to driven by someone with at least a Class E drivers license
can sustain an 8 hour duty day with no less than 50 miles of range before needing to be re-charged for operations. The duty day would include full time operation of the air condition or heat systems depending on the exterior temperature.
capable of driving on paved highways - there would be no need for taking the CTV(s) off-road.
capable of being delivered in a final and complete form no later than June 2023.
have capacity to carry (6) equipment bags of various sizes, (4) Ice Cooling Units and (2) cubic feet of miscellaneous storage for each passenger.
capable of carrying and seating (1) Driver, (4) fully suited astronauts, (1) suit technician, (1) flight operations director and (1) protective service agent.
Ok so, that last item I mentioned is where the FRQ is a bit vague. The literal verbiage reads: "The contractor shall provide one or multiple CTVs capable of carrying and seating the
following NASA personnel:" - I can see how someone could read that and assume that each vehicle needs to seat 8 plus the equipment, but there is a context clue that makes it clearer. When listing the total personnel requirement, the schedule indicates that only the Driver quantity is variable while the other passengers would stay constant. If each CTV needed to hold up to 8 people each, there would be no need to indicate 1 driver per CTV or they would have included "(per CTV)" for each quantity.
Of course, there is still room for personal interpretation, and so when one of the bidders asked for clarification on the topic NASA replied with the upmost clarity...or not.
"Contractors are to propose their best transportation solution, to include quantity of vehicles, to meet the Government’s requirement. "
Well, that's a little clearer...my interpretation of that is basically NASA saying "We have 7 people to move from A to B not including any drivers. It is up to the bidder to decide if they can accomplish this in a single vehicle or if they want to offer a multiple vehicle solution. "
One last clue(aside from the fact that the current prototypes can't legally sit 8 people) is that when Canoo went to visit the NASA KSC, they took along (3) Canoo prototypes: (2) being passenger models and (1) utility model. It stands to reason they'll put (2) astronauts and some of the support staff in each passenger CTV and the third LDV CTV will be for the equipment. The fact they only had two NASA engineers in the Flight Suits to test fitment also attests to this assumption.
Photos from NASA/Kim Shiflett
CANOO AWARDED CONTRACT
Contract Award Date: Mar 31, 2022
Contract Award Number: 80KSC022PA009
Contractor Awarded Name: Canoo Technologies Inc.
Contractor Awarded Address: Torrance, CA 90503-1672 USA
Base and All Options Value (Total Contract Value): $147855.00
As noted above, Canoo's bidding price was $147,855 - just $1,145 less than another contractors bid of $149,000. If you're interested in reading about that bid, you can do so here.
ARTEMIS CTV USE
On launch day, the Artemis CTVs will be stationed outside the O&C on standby for the suited flight crew members and support personnel to board. Once personnel and equipment are loaded, the CTVs will transport Artemis personnel to LC-39B for launch operations. After personnel are safely offloaded at LC39B, the CTVs will move to a standby location outside the Launch Danger Area (LDA) until the end of launch countdown operations. If launch occurs, the CTVs return to a storage location aboard NASA KSC until the next mission. If the launch does not occur, or scrubs, the CTV(s) return to LC39B to pick up the NASA flight crew members for return to the living quarters at the O&C for the next launch attempt.
For training and launch rehearsals that happen after NASA takes delivery from Canoo, the CTVs will be utilized in the same manner described above. For some flight crew training events, the CTVs will transport the astronauts from the O&C to the transfer aisle of the VAB or LCC instead of LC39B.
The primary goal of the Artemis mission is to return humans to the Moon, specifically the lunar south pole, by 2024. Artemis promises to include the first woman and first person of color on the Moon and use innovative technologies to explore more of its surface than ever before. NASA is collaborating with commercial and international partners and plans to establish the first long-term presence on the Moon and may well prove to be one of the longest running space programs.
Over 600 million people tuned in to watch the first moon landing in 1969 and Canoo anticipates billions of impressions associated with the Artemis program as these vehicles will be NASA's first electric crew transports and are sure to be a fan favorite.
After over 50 years, mankind goes back to the moon and his mission will begin with a ride in a Canoo.
Authors disclosures: I am long Canoo - I own common shares, warrants and call options.