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Hagerty Employee

NASA's beloved '83 Astrovan may be refurbished for the next lunar mission

The most famous National Aeronautics and Space Administration vehicle on earth, the original Astronaut Transport Van, was retired in 2011 at the conclusion of the space shuttle program. Now the 1983 Airstream could return-or not-depending on what comes of NASA's search for a new Crew Transportation Vehicle (CRT) for the Artemis mission, which will return humans to the Moon.

NASA wants what will no doubt be multimillion-dollar bids for a vehicle to transport astronauts. The proposal begins with this woke paragraph:

"The NASA KSC is seeking capability statements from all interested parties, including all socioeconomic categories of Small Businesses and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU)/Minority Institutions (MI), and members of the underserved communities as defined by Executive Order 13985, Advancing Racial Equity And Support For Underserved Communities Through The Federal Government, for the purposes of determining the appropriate level of competition and/or small business subcontracting goals for the Artemis Crew Transportation Vehicle (CTV). The Government reserves the right to consider a Small, 8(a), Women-owned (WOSB), Service-Disabled Veteran (SD-VOSB), Economically Disadvantaged Women-owned Small Business (EDWOSB), or HUBZone business set-aside based on responses received."

Meanwhile, SpaceX uses modified Tesla Model Xs to drive astronauts to its rockets. The difference between governmental bureaucracy and private enterprise could not be more clear.
Pit Crew

@JSeivers, you are 100% correct on your assessment of big gubment vs private enterprise. When money is no object you get wasteful spending and inefficient programs with everything the gubment touches.
New Driver

Yes, funny how Bezos and Musk use space as the ultimate toy, given to them by their successful parents. Kind of like how capitalists uses debt; crank it up and break it and leave it when it gets boring.
New Driver

Neither of them grew up wealthy, bezos started out by selling books in his parents dining room and musk made his by starting a successful map software.
Intermediate Driver

Maybe Musk can take on the role of D.D. Harriman and beat NASA back to the moon.

Isn't discrimination by race and gender against the law in this country? Good grief Charlie Brown.

Astrovan II is kind of a joke. The original has some character and history. You do wonder if NASA can ever get us to the moon or even further with our government bleeding money and the people in charge of NASA don't seem to have much of a direction.

Why are we even going back to the moon? The Indians and the Chinese and the Ruskies are already there, what is the point? Is it to see if they put up a "American Only" parking pad at the space station that Buzz Aldrin saw when he was there?


We all know that Alice Cramdon was the first woman on the moon!!

A shame it has to be EV PC BS! Really!
Advanced Driver

So it really doesn't need much more than a 25-30 mile electric range, and doesn't have to hit highway speeds. An electric conversion would be relatively cheap and easy, I could do that in my home shop in a couple weeks and even use regular old deep cycle lead-acid batteries.

Insisting on an EV for something that makes an occasional 18 mile round trip is about as stupid as banning horses from use on cattle ranches circa 1925. Why not insist on a zero-emissions lunar mission as well? That will have a more significant, positive impact on earth-mother than electrifying something that gets used once a year... if they're lucky.

An astute observation, it's a bit ridiculous to insist on a zero-emission vehicle for a 20-mile trip, when at the end of the road they're going to release about 20 quadrabillion tons of carbon into the air when they set off this rocket. The EV requirement is supposed to offset that? Eco-Feelgood box: Checked.

   Listen, NASA, if you read all of these posts, you will realize what a boondoggle you are undertaking.  At the same time, I realize that the astronauts would likely appreciate the idea of going out to the pad in such an historic vehicle.  So here's my proposal (and full disclosure: my wife will attest that I am 100% "woman-owned" 😁) - - - I will buy the old '83 Airstream from you for $12.38, and when you need it, I'll bring it to the Cape and personally run the crew out to the ship.  I will do this completely free-of-charge - saving you potentially millions of $.  The only requirement I have is that you give me 5 days notice before you need me and the Airstream on site, as I'll be camping in it somewhere in the USA at the time!

   PS - very cool photo of the vehicle approaching the Shuttle Launch Pad that's included in the article.  I'd like a high-res copy of that, blown up to 17" x 24" to hang on the wall of my new/old camping vehicle when I take delivery, please.  I mean, after the check clears and all...

Pit Crew

Love this being a rocket scientist.
New Driver

Boy, I thought after that really nice, really long article, they would inform us that now, "We insure classic motorhomes". Darn, maybe soon.
New Driver

I rode all over the Arabian desert in a 5 ton cargo truck, they can survive a nine mile ride the same way.