Tech Insights

Fourth Lunar Rover on the (Moon’s) Horizon

April 21, 2023 by Kevin Clemens

In 2026, SpaceX will fly Venturi’s FLEX lunar rover to the Moon.

There are currently three lunar rovers on the Moon—leftovers from the Apollo 15, 16, and 17 missions. If a Monaco-based company called Venturi has its way, the three rovers will be joined by a fourth lunar land vehicle in 2026.


FLEX lunar rover

FLEX lunar rover. Image used courtesy of Venturi


It is called the FLEX (Flexible Logistics and Exploration) rover, and it was conceived in 2019 by Venturi Group President Gildo Pastor. Venturi Lab S.A. was established in Switzerland as a partner to Venturi Astrolab based in Los Angeles. 


Tough Neighborhood

Life on the Moon isn’t easy. Temperatures range from -90°C to -230°C and, depending on where you are, darkness for a lunar night can extend for more than two weeks. This makes it difficult to charge an electric vehicle using just solar panels. A lunar EV must also resist radiation bombardment (no atmosphere to deflect radiation), and presumably, any lunar rover must be able to be piloted both autonomously when astronauts aren’t present and be driven by astronauts when on the Moon. 

The FLEX lunar rover will include a folding 3 square meter solar array to allow its batteries to charge. It is being designed with an all-electric drive system that will allow four-wheel crab-walk mobility over difficult terrain. A robotic arm lets the FLEX to pick up and move heavy objects on the lunar surface. 


A Company With Electric Vehicle Experience

The parent company Venturi Group has expertise in high-performance batteries and was the first team involved in Formula E racing in 2013. Venturi ended its Formula E involvement in 2022. 

The U.S. subsidiary Venturi North America is located in Ohio and, working with The Ohio State University, developed the Buckeye Bullet land speed record team. The Buckeye Bullet currently holds the electrically powered world land speed record at 307.666 mph for the mile and 341.264 mph for the kilometer.

Venturia Lab in Switzerland specializes in materials and will be responsible for the vehicle’s deformable wheels, solar panels and array, and much of the vehicle electronics. Venturi Astrolab in California will design the vehicle architecture and structure and create the software. The vehicle will be assembled in California. 


FLEX lunar rover

FLEX lunar rover. Image used courtesy of Venturi


“Over the past two decades, the Venturi Group has developed some truly unique, high-performance electric vehicles. The time has come to go further and put the Venturi Group in the history books,” Gildo Pastor, President of the Venturi Group and co-founder of Venturi Lab, said in a news release. “This is an extraordinary achievement and one that is a highlight of my professional life, a life that has always been characterized by innovation, adventure, and the realization of dreams I was told were impossible to fulfill. As important as this milestone is, I know it’s just the first of many that Venturi and Astrolab will achieve,” Pastor added.


SpaceX Delivery

Getting to the Moon won’t be easy, and Venturi has arranged for its FLEX rover to be flown in 2026 onboard the SpaceX Starship launch and landing vehicle. Once there, it will operate autonomously and by remote control until astronauts arrive to take manual control of the lunar rover.