PITTSBURGH, PA – August 6, 2010 – Astrobotic Technology, a Carnegie Mellon University spin-off company devoted to robotic exploration of the Moon, announced that it will pursue NASA’s offer to buy up to $10 million in data from a commercial lunar lander mission. The space agency announced its Innovative Lunar Demonstrations Data (ILDD) program today with a total budget of $30 million.
August 10, 2010 - by Astrobotic accepts NASA challenge for lunar expeditions
August 10, 2010 - by MSBNC features Astrobotic expedition animation
MSNBC's Cosmic Blog displayed the Astrobotic expedition animation in its announcement of the new NASA lunar lander data purchase program. Alan Boyle described Astrobotic as a "front-running" Google Lunar X Prize team that will benefit from up to $10 million of space agency revenue. The complete post is at http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2010/08/06/4834280-nasa-backs-comme... The animation, created by Astrobotic's Aaron Davidson, is below.
August 10, 2010 - by "New Scientist" reports on Astrobotic expedition
The UK publication "New Scientist" featured Astrobotic Technology and Carnegie Mellon University in its report on the new NASA lunar lander data purchase program. Company founder Red Whittaker and President David Gump explained the tremendous value that the NASA declaration will have in motivating additional customers and providing very crucial pre-launch revenue to the several firms that may be selected to participate.
August 5, 2010 - by Astrobotic lander ramp deploys without using motors
One of the challenges in delivering a mobile robot to the Moon is getting it off the lander and down to the surface. The video below shows the conceptual design of a ramp that unfolds from the lander using only a preloaded spring for power. During flight, the mechanism is clamped in place using frangibolts, which are electrically triggered release mechanisms. When the frangibolts release, the ramp unfolds under the control of a series of rigid hinged linkages called a four-bar mechanism.
July 30, 2010 - by Astrobotic designs excavator to recover lunar volatiles
Astrobotic is developing lightweight robotic excavators for the Moon to recover the rich volatiles at the poles. Recent data indicate that not all of these volatiles exist only in hard-to-reach dark crater floors -- some may be found in regions that periodically receive sunlight, but covered by an insulating layer of soil. These Astrobotic machines enable removal of the insulating dry soil to mine the water ice and other
July 21, 2010 - by Time to save the Space Technology budget!
Tomorrow (Thursday, July 23) the Senate Appropriations Committee will vote on the NASA budget, which so far in Congress has been rolled back from the great new direction proposed by the Administration to a jobs program for old-line aerospace companies and their too-expensive-to-use systems.
July 18, 2010 - by Lunar rover motor tested under load
The Astrobotic Technology lunar rover will be powered by two motors mounted inside the body, powering chain drives to each side's wheels. The video below shows an initial test of one motor under load -- raising and lowering a 25-kg weight hanging from a pulley. Thermocouples taped to the motor and gear boxes measured how the heat generated during the test flowed down to the base plate during a two-hour run. To operate throughout the lunar day, the chief challenge is to cool the motors and electronics inside the rover. The motors must stay below 100 C.
July 15, 2010 - by Black Magic construction progresses
The "Black Magic" test article, which will simulate the attitude control system on the Astrobotic lander, is now populated with most of its control hardware and the solenoid valves which will control the compressed air that substitutes for actual rocket thrusters during the simulation. Shown below is the top of the test article.
July 8, 2010 - by Black Magic begins to take shape
The Astrobotic spacecraft/lander requires an attitude control system (ACS) to keep itself oriented correctly on the flight to the Moon and during the nerve-wracking descent to the surface. "Black Magic" is the development system to lest the ACS' sensors and algorithms with cold gas thrusters in place of the hot gas thrusters that will be used in the actual lander.
July 1, 2010 - by Sun shield for composite materials fabricated
The composite structure of the rover and lander will be baked with heat coming directly from the Sun, and reflected up from the hot lunar soil. To reflect as much radiation as possible, the Astrobotic team is experimenting with bonding a top Mylar foil layer on to the composite sandwich of carbon fiber fabric and resin that forms the main structure. Last week two four-inch-sqaure test articles were fabricated, one with a gold Mylar top and other other with silver Mylar, co-cured with the composite layers.