NASA Awards Contract To Investigate Prospecting For Lunar Resources | Aero-News Network
Aero-News Network
RSS icon RSS feed
podcast icon MP3 podcast
Subscribe Aero-News e-mail Newsletter Subscribe

Airborne Unlimited -- Recent Daily Episodes

Episode Date

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Airborne On ANN

Airborne 09.26.16

Airborne 09.27.16

Airborne 09.28.16

Airborne 09.29.16

Airborne 09.30.16

Airborne Hi-Def On YouTube

Airborne 09.26.16

Airborne 09.27.16

Airborne 09.28.16

Airborne 09.29.16

Airborne 09.30.16

Thu, Apr 26, 2012

NASA Awards Contract To Investigate Prospecting For Lunar Resources

Will Determine If Company Can Deploy Ice Prospecting Equipment To The Moon

NASA has awarded a contract to Astrobotic Technology to determine whether its polar rover can deploy an ice-prospecting payload to the Moon. The ice could yield water, oxygen, methane and rocket propellant to dramatically reduce the cost of space exploration. "Astrobotic seeks the immense resources available on the Moon to both accelerate space exploration and improve life on Earth," said David Gump, president. "The lunar path is near term. We intend a prospecting mission in 2015."

Astrobotic began development of its lunar excavation robot in 2009 under a series of NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contracts that now total $795,000. The new NASA SBIR Phase 3 follow-on contract is to consider robot refinements for carrying NASA-supplied instruments and a drill. Recent lunar-orbiting satellites from several nations, and a NASA probe that impacted near the Moon's south pole, have sensed polar ice composed of water, methane, ammonia, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide and other substances. These polar resources went undiscovered during the Apollo expeditions which landed near the equator. The next step is to drill and measure the polar ices directly to see if they are sufficiently concentrated to be useful.

Lunar propellant derived from the ice could fuel spacecraft for long voyages, Earth-return, or maneuvering satellites. Water and oxygen would be invaluable for life support. Other elements have immense value for energy, processes, fabrication and habitation. When seeking resources from planetary destinations, the four-day travel time to reach the Moon enables early return on investment compared to more distant targets.

Astrobotic has reserved a Falcon 9 launch vehicle made by SpaceX to send its spacecraft and robot explorer on a trajectory toward the Moon. The Astrobotic spacecraft will deliver the prospector to the lunar surface with technology that autonomously avoids landing hazards such as large rocks and craters. The navigation system is derived from technology developed at Carnegie Mellon University under Dr. William "Red" Whittaker, Astrobotic's founder. Dr. Whittaker won the DARPA Urban Challenge with a driverless car able to autonomously navigate through city streets, avoiding other cars and obeying the California traffic code. The ability to detect hazards and automatically select alternative pathways is the core of Astrobotic's  automatic lunar landing system.

Astrobotic has won $12 million in nine NASA lunar contracts, covering topics from simulating lunar gravity on Earth to discovering ways to robotically explore the Moon's volcanic caves. Lunar satellites recently spotted potential entrances to these caves, which can provide shelter to robot and human explorers from the radiation, micrometeorites and extreme temperature swings of the lunar surface.

FMI: www.astrobotictech.com

Advertisement

More News

Airborne 09.28.16: NEW DJI Mavic!, EAA's Next STC, Sean Tucker Honored

Also: LA Times v SMO, APS UAT Program, Gordon Bennett 2016, Tucson Control Tower, Hubble Find, Southwest Airlines, Iowa State Another new small unmanned aerial system is now on the>[...]

AeroSports Update: Sean Tucker Is Honored By The CAF

Aerobatic Pilot Sean Tucker Receives The 2016 Lloyd P. Nolen Lifetime Achievement In Aviation Award Aerobatic pilot Sean D. Tucker has been named the recipient of the Lloyd P. Nole>[...]

Elon Musk Outlines Vision For Martian City

Rockets Carrying As Many As 200 People Could Leave For The Neighboring Planet In 'Decades' No one can deny that Elon Musk thinks big, and in a speech at the International Astronaut>[...]

Dutch Investigators Release Findings In MH17 Shootdown

Determines That The Missile 'Came From Russia' The Buk missile that destroyed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014 came from Russia, according to a Dutch-led >[...]

ForeFlight, SiriusXM Introduce Satellite Aviation Weather Service

Weather And Other Key Information Available Using The SXAR1 Portable Receiver Today ForeFlight and SiriusXM introduced SiriusXM Aviation weather service on the newest version of Fo>[...]

blog comments powered by Disqus



Advertisement

Advertisement

Podcasts

Advertisement

© 2007 - 2016 Web Development & Design by Pauli Systems, LC