Lunar Roundup: Fresh Frontiers
By Nick Azer on February 26, 2013
Welcome to this week’s Lunar Roundup! A power rankings-style look at who & what’s been “Awesome!” over the past week in the Google Lunar X PRIZE.
Tons of fresh developments and information this week! Astrobotic showed off their cave-exploring robot; Stellar gave a look at their budget (and the challenges of Australian aerospace); Euroluna announced a satellite launch with Indian rockets; Barcelona Moon gave a great inside tour of one of their major space partners; and Team Indus brought out the classical music for an awesome moon-landing animation!
Plus, one of the best sets of Honorable Mentions yet, so check those out too!
Your moon-race highlights for February 19th-February 25th:
1) Cave Crawler!
Astrobotic posted a look at their future cave-crawling robot!:
This is different from their ice-mining Polaris rover (which they hope to win the prize with); the cave crawler here will be part of a future mission to a lunar lava tube (and corresponding skylight entrance). These lava tubes could be a great location for future moon bases!
The rover uses a very unusual method of recharging---since there's no solar power available underground, they're working on a cool new tether system (where the spelunking bot will match up with the hanging wire). Breaking new ground!:
2) A Stellar Future!
"Well, I think the cost of getting to the Moon is about $30 million for us..." -Robert Brand, at 7:40 in the audio interview
This is really interesting, as team SpaceIL publicly announced that their mission budget is also $30 million (back in october). So, that basically means your average Google Lunar X PRIZE mission costs about $30 million! Not bad with the $20 million prize, right? :)
If you have this, you can send a robot to the Moon! And get $20 million of it back, if you're quick ;)
The well-spoken Brand also talks about the challenges of aerospace in Australia (including 'brain drain'), the fun of DIY-space, and other team/funding details; so check out the audio file and brief text summary for more of this really interesting interview!
Euroluna's been hanging out in India a lot lately, and recently met with Team Indus there...so I'd say keep those ears and eyes tuned for more!
4) Inside Look!
The video starts off a little slow, but at 2:47 it gets awesome: an inside look at their major space labs and the awesome people working there! A lot of the folks are working on the big European Space Agency ExoMars project (which team ARCA is also contributing to). Here's the whole video:
- Part Time Scientists posted an entertaining video of their visit to the "humungous nerd fest" called Campus Party in Sao Paulo!
- Angelicum went shopping for rover parts at Clyde Space in Scotland!
- ARCA posted photos of their rocket engine test facility under construction!
- Omega Envoy showed off a cool rover-test picture and gave word of more (video) to come!
- Team Puli also showed off a cool photo of their rover in action alongside a Mars rover in Morocco!
- Popular Mechanics featured four of the (many) contenders for the Google Lunar X PRIZE!
- Our own Leo Camacho (who moonlights as both Wolverine and a live-action Disney prince) and Nathan Wong (who rocks HuffPost) appeared on SpaceVidCast to talk about the Google Lunar X PRIZE!
- Astrobotic was featured by the spunky Daily Orbit webcast.
I’ll be rounding these up on a weekly basis, so keep an eye here for all the most awesome developments.
For the full skinny on everything that happens, follow the official feeds for team blogs, team social, and team videos!
And if you have any favorite stories that I didn’t post here...share ’em in the comments below!