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.
And if you have any favorite stories that I didn’t post here...share ’em in the comments below!