Lunar Roundup: Changes Abound
Big changes as Astrobotic switches out their rover, and White Label Space changes their name!
By Nick Azer on July 16, 2013
This week, in the Google Lunar XPRIZE....
Here's the scoop on the big changes (and some other cool highlights from the week):
They've been planning to have their Polaris water-prospecting robot land near the Lunar north pole and complete the prize, but now a different skylight-exploring robot will be going for the gold instead! [Correction, 7/17/13: I initially stated that the 'Tyrobot' was going be the mission rover, but that is not specified in their documents.]
"Our smaller, lighter rover can explore the skylight while making more mass available to our customers at a very competitive price.” -John Thornton, President, Astrobotic
Here's a "Tyrobot" cave-exploring robot from 2012 in action:
According to their (really cool) catalogue of services, at least three of their rovers (the Polaris, cave-exploring bot, and Red Rover) are currently available for customer missions (plus, their lander). For Astrobotic---and most of the teams---the Google Lunar XPRIZE is just a launching point for long-term plans of Moon enterprise!
Astrobotic has switched out their rovers once before---having replaced their Red Rover with Polaris last year.
For all the 'geek' information in the world on their current robots and capabilities, check out the new Payload User's Guide!
And be sure to stay tuned for for more on Polaris and its future...
In another milestone development, team White Label Space has changed their name!
They've now branded as Team Hakuto (which means "White Rabbit" in Japanese). Having recently shifted their operations to be based entirely in Japan, they've adopted the new name in order to be better connected with their home culture & audience.
The name refers to the Japanese legend of the Rabbit on the Moon (which is also seen in some other cultures):
The new name also comes along with a brand new site, including a whole bunch of new info & imagery! Expect to be hearing a lot about Hakuto and their rovers for a long time to come...
Meanwhile, Angelicvm posted an awesome video about their wheel technology; an innovative and fun way to present technical news:
Omega Envoy posted an inspiring essay about working in space (...which can be an easier field to get into than you think! I'm a writing/marketing/policy guy with a bachelor's in Urban Planning, for instance. A budding industry means opportunities for all! Even non-rocket-scientists):
And a cool photo of their rover dominating some rocks in Austria:
'National-Park Camping'? Not Quite
And---last but not least---there were some great analyses (from Mashable, and from Geek.com) of the controversial Apollo National Park bill in the U.S. Congress, and why it's noble idea...but something that probably isn't going to work out as written.
If the bill were to pass (as covered here last week), it would affect what the teams could do around the Apollo sites with their rovers.
A U.S. National Park? Probably not.
- Angelicvm featured some interesting vacuum chamber tests (including marshmallow test subjects and a rockin' soundtrack!)
- SpaceIL posted a detailed look at their navigation systems, and how to get around the Moon without GPS!
- Stellar CEO (and noted aviation veteran) Stjepan Bedić posted a look at aviation, risk, and space!
I’ll be rounding these up every week, so keep an eye here for the best developments from our very own moon race.
And if you have any favorite stories from the week that didn’t make it in here---share them below!
July 9th-July 15th, 2013.