Astrolab’s FLEX Rover Set for 2026 SpaceX Starship Trip to the Moon

Astrolab's FLEX Rover Set for 2026 SpaceX Starship Trip to the Moon

Space exploration startup Astrolab recently announced that it has signed a contract with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to reserve a spot for its SUV-sized rover on an uncrewed Starship cargo mission. Scheduled for launch as early as mid-2026, this marks SpaceX’s first commercial cargo contract to the lunar surface. Astrolab CEO Jaret Matthews revealed that his company is one of several customers participating in the flight.

Astrolab is developing a vehicle called the Flexible Logistics and Exploration (FLEX) rover, designed to transport equipment, supplies, and people across the lunar surface. With dimensions similar to a Jeep Wrangler, FLEX is slightly larger than NASA’s Perseverance rover currently on Mars. The FLEX rover is equipped with a robotic arm for handling cargo and can reach speeds of up to 15 miles per hour. Additionally, it has the capacity to carry two astronauts.

Upon landing on the Moon, FLEX is set to become the largest rover to traverse the lunar surface. Matthews informed The New York Times that Astrolab already has customers lined up to use the rover for transporting cargo during the 2026 Starship mission. Looking further into the future, he envisions FLEX playing a critical role in establishing a permanent human presence on the Moon and potentially extending to Mars. Matthews expressed his aspirations for a fleet of rovers operating on both the Moon and Mars, stating, “I really think I see these vehicles as the catalysts ultimately for the off-Earth economy.”

This partnership between SpaceX and Astrolab signifies a significant step forward in lunar exploration and the development of an off-Earth economy. With the launch of Astrolab’s FLEX rover aboard SpaceX’s Starship, advancements in lunar transportation, infrastructure, and human presence on the Moon are anticipated to accelerate in the coming years.

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