Reveal of Hakuto's New Pre-Flight Models of Moon Exploration Rovers!

HAKUTO, the Japanese team selected to compete for the Milestone Prizes, has announced new pre-flight models of its two moon exploration rovers: four-wheeled "Moonraker" and two-wheeled "Tetris." Hakuto has developed a small and lightweight dual rover system to fulfill the requirements of the Google Lunar XPRIZE and, for the first time, explore caves beneath the lunar surface.

Moonraker (left) and Tetris (right). Credit: Hakuto

The lunar environment is extreme with surface temperatures ranging from below -150℃ to above 100℃. As part of the Milestone judging process, we will conduct thermal vacuum testing to prove that the rovers can perform their mission in these harsh conditions. All testing will take place under the scrutiny of the Google Lunar XPRIZE judging panel.

Hakuto's rovers must be able to move more than 500 meters on the moon's surface, which is covered in fine, abrasive sand known as regolith, while avoiding craters and rocks. We developed wheels that can run over this soft terrain and will demonstrate this capability during the field tests. 

In addition to competing for the Google Lunar XPRIZE, Hakuto will send two rovers to the moon to explore a lunar lava tube for the first time. In 2009, Japan's lunar exploration satellite, "Kaguya" (SELENE), discovered holes that are thought to be caves or "skylights" into underlying lava tubes. The two-wheeled "Tetris," connected by a tether to the four-wheeled "Moonraker," will be lowered down through a hole on the surface to explore the caves underneath. These lava tubes could prove to be very important scientifically, as they could help explain the moon's volcanic past. They could also become candidate sites for long-term habitats, able to shield humans from the moon's hostile environment.

The rovers' bodies incorporate strong, lightweight, autoclave-molded Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) materials, which are commonly used in aircrafts and rockets. Design and production of the rover bodies have been carried out by the Japanese company RDS Inc., Hakuto's official partner. Since launch cost increases with mass, Hakuto has utilized Japanese expertise in miniaturization[J1] , while also incorporating many off-the-shelf commercial products to keep costs to a minimum.

Hakuto has selected a hyperbolic mirror camera system to become the "eye" of Moonraker, which will capture high-definition, 360-degree images of the lunar surface and transmit them back to Earth as part of the Google Lunar XPRIZE "Mooncasts." Data from the panoramic camera and other sensors will also be used by the rover in its Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) algorithm to identify its surrounding environment and estimate its own position.

Basic Specifications


Size: 480 mm (width) × 600 mm (depth) × 540 mm (height)

Mass: 10kg


Size: 270 mm (width) × 540mm (depth) × 210mm (height)

Mass: 2kg

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