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/NBAA2014 10.22.14 ** HD iPad-Friendly -- Airborne/NBAA2014 10.22.14 **
** Airborne/NBAA2014 10.21.14 ** HD iPad-Friendly -- Airborne/NBAA2014 10.21.14 **
** Airborne/NBAA2014 10.20.14 ** HD iPad-Friendly -- Airborne/NBAA2014 10.20.14 **

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

Game-Changing NBAA2014 Sponsor Mid-Continent Instruments and Avionics!

Innovation Brings Safe, Certified, Nanophosphate® Lithium Batteries To New Business Aircraft True Blue Power is the first company in the world to achieve FAA TSO and EASA ETSO >[...]

Airborne at NBAA--10.21.14: NBAA2014 Opens, Eclipse Update, FJ44 TBO Increase

Also: Shuster/Hart Address NBAA, Gogo Means Business, BBJ Maxes Out, Hartzell Pulls Its Weight The NBAA Opening General Session featured two well-known names from Washington. Repre>[...]

Airborne at NBAA--10.20.14: HondaJet, Honeywell Forecast, Gulfstream's G500/G600

Also: Garmin's ADS-B For BizAv, R44s For Jordan, Textron Aviation, Hartzell Props, Clarity Aloft Pro Plus At a news conference early Monday at the 2014 NBAA convention, HondaJet sa>[...]

Airborne at NBAA--10.21.14: NBAA2014 Opens, Eclipse Update, FJ44 TBO Increase

Also: Shuster/Hart Address NBAA, Gogo Means Business, BBJ Maxes Out, Hartzell Pulls Its Weight The NBAA Opening General Session featured two well-known names from Washington. Repre>[...]

ANN's Daily Aero-Linx (10.22.14)

Airport Operators Association - U.K. Founded in 1934, the Airport Operators Association (AOA) is the national voice of UK airports.>[...]

blog comments powered by Disqus



Advertisement

Advertisement

Podcasts

Advertisement

© 2007 - 2014 Web Development & Design by Pauli Systems, LC