Wild Pod-Shaped Electric Vans Will Haul NASA Moon Astronauts to the Launchpad

Canoo's crew transportation vehicles for the Artemis program will replace the 1980s Astrovans used for shuttle missions.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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A rendering shows a concept for Canoo's crew transportation vehicles for NASA Artemis astronauts.


Pour one out for the 1983 Airstream Astrovan, a glorious silver beast of a motor home NASA used to carry space shuttle astronauts to their rocket rides. NASA has chosen the Astrovan's replacement, an electric vehicle from startup Canoo

The vehicles are needed to haul future Artemis moon mission astronauts on a 9-mile (14.5 kilometer) journey to the launchpad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA is commissioning three of the vehicles, which need to be spacious enough to hold fully suited astronauts, support staff and gear. 

In a statement on Wednesday, NASA hailed the new crew transportation vehicles as "futuristic transports with pod-shaped exteriors" that will be environmentally friendly. An "inspirational rendering" of Canoo's concept shows what looks like a souped-up minivan with a silver paint job that pays tribute to the '80s-chic Astrovan. The final design could look different.

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NASA is conducting tests on its Artemis I SLS rocket and Orion capsule with the hopes of launching it on a trip around the moon later this year. That mission won't have any humans on board, but Artemis II will have a crew. Canoo is expected to deliver the new, made-in-the-US fleet by mid-2023.

The Canoo render might look a bit like a vintage sci-fi illustration, but it's mercifully way classier than a tongue-in-cheek proposal from hot dog company Oscar Mayer last year for an astronaut-hauling Wienermobile. The Artemis crews will be able to step out of their launch-limos with pride.

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