Astrobotic awarded NASA contract to develop CubeRover for lunar missions
(13 March 2018 - Astrobotic) Astrobotic, in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, has been selected by NASA for a Phase II SBIR Award to develop CubeRover, a class of 2-kg rover platform capable of small-scale science and exploration on the Moon and other planetary surfaces.
This new small rover platform complements Astrobotic’s lunar payload delivery service by providing a low-cost mobility capability to the lunar surface for customers around the world.
CubeRover is based on the idea that a standard robotic mobility platform, built to survive the lunar environment, could be used by a wide range of companies, governments, universities, and non-profits to carry out their own small-scale lunar science and exploration missions. This standardized architecture will drive the space community to commoditize systems, components, and instruments that are compatible with the platform, lowering costs and vastly increasing functionality.
Just as the CubeSat revolution opened a new era of science and commerce in orbit, CubeRovers will make mobile lunar surface access available to everyone. When a CubeRover lands at the dawn of the next decade, it will change the paradigm for planetary surface operations, and create the infrastructure for off-world development and settlement from the ground up.
“CubeRover stands to give more people access to the Moon than ever before. Countries and organizations without multi-billion-dollar budgets now have a means of exploring other worlds for the first time. We are thrilled NASA is supporting our vision to innovate lunar surface mobility,” said Dr. Andrew Horchler, Principal Investigator of the program at Astrobotic.
In Phase I, Astrobotic and Carnegie Mellon University collaborated on a rigorous, system-wide development of a 2-kg rover prototype that could explore the surface of the Moon. The team, made up of more than 30 individuals, performed major engineering studies to determine the architecture of a novel chassis, body type, power system, and computing system, and produced novel flight software and navigational techniques for small rovers.
In Phase II the team will follow up this groundbreaking work with a rapid, two-year development to deliver a flight-ready rover to NASA. The team intends to fly the first CubeRover on Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander to the Moon in 2020.
Astrobotic Technology, Inc. is a lunar logistics company that delivers payloads to the Moon for companies, governments, universities, non-profits, and individuals. The company’s spacecraft accommodates multiple customer payloads on a single flight, offering flexibility at an industry-defining low price of $1.2 million per kilogram. Astrobotic is an official partner with NASA through the Lunar CATALYST program, has 24 prior and ongoing NASA contracts, a commercial partnership with Airbus DS, a corporate sponsorship with DHL, 11 deals for its first mission to the Moon, and 130 customer payloads in the pipeline for upcoming missions. Astrobotic was founded in 2007 and is headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA.