NASA to Fund Astrobotic CubeRover for Lunar Exploration

As the stress of having to be the only agency to put humans and cargo into orbit all the time has been removed with the help of private contractors, NASA is now free to pursue other mid- and long term goals.
New lunar lander to carry a new rover to the Moon 1 photo
Seeing that collaboration with SpaceX and other private companies pays off in terms of cost and effectiveness, NASA decided to look for similar developments when it comes to the rovers it will use for both Moon and Mars Missions in the future.

On its own, NASA is now prepping a mission for Mars in 2020, complete with a brand new rover. The agency has plans for a return, be it robotic only, to the Moon as well. To that end, it needs a rover to do all the hard work.

Earlier this month, NASA said it selected Pittsburgh-based company Astrobotic for the creation of such a machine. To be called CubeRover, it will be small enough to fit onto a small cube mounted aboard a lunar lander.

The rover is a 2 kg platform capable of small-scale science experiments and exploration. It has been developed by a team of 30 engineers whose work has now been recognized by NASA. The space agency will fund the further development of the projects through the Phase II SBIR Award.

“CubeRover stands to give more people access to the Moon than ever before,” said Andrew Horchler, Astrobotic program leader.

“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.”

The contractor plans to launch its own mission to the Moon, called Peregrine, the same year NASA will head for Mars. By then, the rover would have to be ready, as NASA intends on seeing it in action on the lunar surface as soon as possible.


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