Astrobotic awarded $5.6 million by NASA to deliver moon rover
Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic Technology Inc. was selected Monday to develop an autonomous lunar rover with its partner, Carnegie Mellon University.
The 13 kilogram autonomous rover, known as MoonRanger, is being developed to provide high fidelity 3-D maps of the moon’s surface in areas such as polar regions and lunar pits, according to an Astrobotic press release.
The $5.6 million award will prepare MoonRanger for a flight to the moon on an upcoming mission through the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program. With this contract, MoonRanger could fly to the moon as early as 2021 or 2022.
“The autonomy techniques demonstrated by MoonRanger will enable new kinds of exploration missions that will ultimately herald in a new era on the moon,” said Red Whittaker, CMU professor of robotics.
Modest in size and mass, the MoonRanger rover possesses the kind of mobility needed to explore lunar pits, investigate magnetic swirls, and deploy mobile instruments on the moon’s surface.
“This latest NASA award to develop MoonRanger for a mission to the moon is another example of how Astrobotic is the world leader in lunar logistics,” said John Thornton, CEO of Astrobotic. “Our lander and rover capabilities are designed to deliver our customers to the Moon and allow them to carry out meaningful, low-cost activities for science, exploration and commerce.”
Paul Guggenheimer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-226-7706 or [email protected].