New Details Available on Lunar Terrain Vehicle Proposals

Illustration of the lunar terrain vehicle from the Lockheed Martin lead Lunar Dawn Team. Image credit: Lockheed Martin.

NASA has released the Source Selection Statement for the Lunar Terrain Vehicle Services contract that provides details including costs and evaluation scores on the three companies selected, Intuitive Machines, Venturi Astrolab and Lunar Outpost. MDA is a team member of the Lunar Outpost proposal.

A total of nine companies submitted proposals. Along with the three selected, other proposals came from; Astrobotic Technology, Blue Origin, Dynetics, Inc. a Leidos Company, GITAI USA, ORBIT, and 3Sixty Degrees.

NASA’s process included determining if the submitted proposals were acceptable for evaluation. Three did not meet the initial criteria, GITAI USA, ORBIT, and 3Sixty Degrees.

This left six proposals to evaluate including Intuitive Machines, Venturi Astrolab, Lunar Outpost, Astrobotic, Blue Origin and Leidos.

All proposals were evaluated on Price, Mission Suitability, and Past Performance with a score assigned in each category. On December 4, 2023, Astrobotic, Blue Origin and Leidos were informed that there scores were in the bottom half and would not be selected.

Of the remaining three proposals Astrolab Venturi had the best Mission Suitability score though a low level of confidence based on past performance but also was the most expensive proposals. Lunar Outpost had the second highest Mission Suitability score with a moderate level of confidence and a lower cost than Astrolab Venturi . Intuitive Machines had the lowest Mission Suitability score of the three proposals but a moderate level of confidence and lowest Price Factor cost.

Astrolab Venturi Notes

  • Price Factor (Total Evaluated Price) – $1,927,685,068
  • Mission Suitability Factor – 905 out of 1000 – Five Significant Strengths and six Strengths.
  • Past Performance – Low level of confidence

Lunar Outpost Notes

  • Price Factor (Total Evaluated Price) – $1,727,073,564
  • Mission Suitability Factor – 863 out of 1000 – Two Significant Strengths and seven Strengths.
  • Past Performance – Moderate level of confidence

Intuitive Machines Notes

  • Price Factor (Total Evaluated Price) – $1,691,995,357
  • Mission Suitability Factor – 724 out of 1,000 – Two Significant Strengths, five Strengths, and one Weakness.
  • Past Performance – Moderate level of confidence

Vanessa Wyche, the Source Selection Authority, provided the following thoughts on comparison of the proposals.

“The value of Astrolab strong Mission Suitability evaluations offset the additional anticipated costs associated with the proposals. I am aware of the relative merits and costs of each Offeror s proposal and find that Astrolab’s proposal to co- manifest LTV on the Artemis IV mission, its provision of an alternative launch vehicle to ensure timely lunar delivery, its use of previous prototype building and field ground testing, its approach to payload architecture that allows pallet movement without imposition on crew time, its commercialization approach, and its strong approach to small business subcontracting create value for the Government that offsets the price differential between the Astrolab proposal and the Lunar Outpost and Intuitive Machine proposals.”

“Likewise, I see great value in Lunar Outpost’s advanced technology for energy storage, the multiple areas it exceed NASA’s requirements, its proposed science mission services approach, and its ability to help NASA to meet its challenging Small Business Goals. Furthermore, Lunar Outpost’s proposal approach may increase science exploration capability, which will benefit from the development of an experienced Science Council and enhanced telerobotics operations with “self-driving” capability. These aspects of the Lunar Outpost proposal create value for the Government that offsets the price differential between the Lunar Outpost and Intuitive Machine proposals.”

In reviewing the document two items stand out. While Astrolab Venturi had the highest score for Mission Suitability, its low past performance score could hurt them going forward.

On the other hand, for Lunar Outpost, Wyche noted that “I greatly value the proposal’s use of advanced technology for energy storage as NASA will benefit from vehicle performance that is enhanced beyond RFP requirements.” Power on the moon will be at a premium. With a proposal that exceeds the RFP requirements, along with other strengths mentioned including telerobotics, the Lunar Outpost proposal appears to be very strong.

NASA will only select one proposal and based just on the Source Selection Statement document provided it appears it’s going to come down to Astrolab Venturi and Lunar Outpost.

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and Executive Vice President, Content of SpaceNews. Boucher has 25+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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