Living on another planet will be possible someday. It may not happen in our lifetime, but we can do our part for the next generation by preparing well for the possibility. Who knows, we may see that as technology is well advancing by leaps and bounds.
Moon or Mars—where do you want to live? We can’t really say where the best place to live is, but we find it fun and exciting to imagine life in either of the two. You already have the Y3 Space-X Running Shoes for Mars and the Vollebak Mars Gear. Now let’s talk about what vehicle you will be driving. It can be the NASA Bike or the Star Wars-inspired Pandemax or this new project from Astrolab.
The Astrolab FLEX Rover may be available soon as it is currently being developed. It is not just a concept, but a company is already building the FLEX (short Flexible Logistics and Exploration). It doesn’t look like a futuristic or a fancy sports car, but it is designed to transport cargo and humans on the moon or Mars.
The Astrolab FLEX rover is designed for humans to explore the place freely. It can be a rover or a lander, depending on a person’s need anywhere in the solar system. It boasts a modular payload interface that can support intermodal transportation. Astrolab has begun exploring solutions on living and operating on other planets. The company aims to design, build, and run a fleet of rovers someday.
The FLEX rover supports exploration, robotic science, construction, logistics, resource utilization, and human operations on Mars or the moon. It can seat two astronauts on a removable deck and has a deck that can carry 3m³ of cargo. It comes with navigation and hazard detection sensors for semi-autonomous operations. In addition, it has solar panels to keep the vehicle powered.
The wheels are ready for soft soil or the kind found on the moon or Mars. It’s like something we’ve seen in the movies before, but we know it’s really being built this time. As described, it has a versatile design that allows adaptive utility, last-mile cargo delivery, and crew transport in one vehicle.
Astrolab believes in planetary discovery and exploration, and it is something the generation of our children may get to experience. The video above shows that the Astrolab FLEX Rover may be part of that future as a prototype is now fully operational. Chris Hadfield, a retired NASA astronaut, tested the FLEX and shared with us its role in the future.
Hadfield, who is also an advisory board member of Astrolab, said, “it was not only a joy to drive FLEX but also see its size, capability and get an intuitive sense of what this rover can do.” He said equipment needs to change as we transition from the Apollo era to the future when we can live on the moon. “When we settle somewhere, we don’t just need to get people from one place to another, but we need to move hardware, cargo, life support equipment, and more. And it’s all dependent on mobility,” the astronaut also said.