Professor Red Whittaker founded, Astrobotic has secured $5.6 million contract from NASA’s LSITP program for development of an autonomous land rover in partnership with Carnegie Mellon. MoonRanger is the name of the autonomous rover. MoonRanger weighs 13 kg and will be responsible for providing highly reliable lunar surface 3D maps in zones comprising the lunar pits and Polar Regions. This will greatly facilitate autonomous exploration of the lunar surface in totally revolutionary speeds and range.
The MoonRanger’s Moon flight is scheduled in 2021 to 2022 and will be a part of the forthcoming mission under CLPS program. The rover’s ground-breaking technology is the work of Carnegie Mellon Prof. Red Whittaker and it will lead the way for exploration of lunar pits, investigation of magnetic swirls, characterization of ice and deployment of mobile instruments on the Moon’s surface. Whittaker stated that it would enhance the doable capability of lunar missions for the commercial sector along with NASA.
The rover is moderate in mass and size and is superbly mobile being light-weight. This will ensure a more reasonably priced flight platform. Rover will be first of its kind in providing autonomous exploration of the lunar surface and will eventually pave the way for a new beginning of functioning in space.
This recent award given by NASA to Astrobotic for the development of Moon Ranger for a lunar mission just goes to show the world prowess of Astrobotic in the field of lunar logistics. John Thornton, CEO of Astrobotic stated that the competency of their rover and lander was such that they would enable their customers to reach the lunar surface for the purpose of carrying out cost-effective and significant undertakings for science, commerce and exploration.
MoonRanger goes on to be a part of the product offerings from Astrobotic in addition to CubeRover and Polaris.