NASA Taps EV Maker Canoo to Shuttle Astronauts to Launchpad

NASA Taps EV Maker Canoo to Shuttle Astronauts to Launchpad

NASA selected electric-truck maker Canoo Inc. to build vehicles to carry astronauts to the launchpad for upcoming missions to the moon and Mars, boosting the company’s profile as it grapples with a federal securities investigation and employee exodus.

The contract, valued at $147,855, was announced last week on the website for the U.S. General Services Administration. Competing bidders have until later this month to protest the award. 

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration confirmed the decision, saying in a statement to Bloomberg that it’s “excited for this partnership and looks forward to seeing the next generation of crew transport vehicles.” A Canoo representative didn’t immediately comment.

Under the agreement, Canoo would manufacture at least one vehicle to carry astronauts in Artemis missions a short distance from a preparation building to the launchpad during dress rehearsals and on launch day, according to an earlier solicitation. The agency requested that the vehicle have no emissions, have a minimum range of 50 miles (80 kilometers) and seat eight people.

Crew transport vehicles historically have been used as promotional opportunities. The astronauts who flew on the Space Shuttle missions rode to the launchpad in a modified Airstream trailer known as the “Astrovan.” More recently, Tesla Inc. vehicles have been used in launches by another Elon Musk company, SpaceX. Jeff Bezos arrived at a Blue Origin launch in a ride made by Rivian Automotive Inc., which is backed by Inc.

Canoo, which is significantly smaller than either of those EV manufacturers, could use a boost. The company has lost more than 50 employees since the beginning of the year, according to a person familiar with the matter, after the departures last year of its chief executive officer and other leaders. Canoo, which hopes to begin commercial production this year, is also under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The NASA contract calls for the delivery of crew transport vehicles by June 2023. The first crewed Artemis mission is slated for 2024.

Canoo’s shares rose 1.8% as of 5:38 p.m. in New York after jumping as much as 5% in after-hours trading. The stock fell 20% this year through Monday’s close.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.