LAMPS Is One of Five Projects Meant to Power Human Activities on the Moon

mPower DragonSCALES flexible solar cells to power panels on the Moon 1 photo
Photo: Honeybee
At the beginning of April, the American space agency announced the shortlist of companies selected to design vertically deployable solar array systems that can be used on the Moon. Among the five is Honeybee Robotics, which last week decided to give us a glimpse at the technology it will be using.
For the project at hand, Honeybee works with another company, mPower Technology. The two have created LAMPS, which is short for Lunar Array, Mast, and Power System.

According to its makers, LAMPS comprises “some of the lightest solar panels ever made,” although the specifics have not been announced. The idea calls for three solar panels to be extended to a height of two stories. From there, an extra two-and-a-half stories of panel material will be deployed “using a patented, new deployable boom.”

Honeybee does not say how much electricity its system could harness and distribute.

The NASA competition is a high-reward one. For now, five companies are fighting (the said Honeybee, Astrobotic, ATK Space Systems, Lockheed Martin, and Space Systems Loral). Later down the line, NASA will select two of them and hand them $7.5 million each to move on with their projects.

When ready, the vertical solar panels on the Moon—such an approach is needed because it’s better suited to prevent loss of power at the pole, where the Sun is always very close to the horizon—should power everything from battery packs to special stations designed to recharge the rovers on site.

The plan still is for NASA to have humans return to the Moon by the middle of the decade. As the moment approaches, though, both private and government organizations are beginning to doubt our capability to do it in this timeframe.

Initially, landing on the Moon was not planned for before 2028, but that changed in 2019 when NASA received a “down payment” from the Trump administration to move the deadline much closer.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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