Astrobotic Technology has declared that it is one of the six global organizations to obtain NASA’s Phase II Small Business Innovation Research award for developing a robot to excavate water and methane ice from the poles of the moon.
This latest two year agreement worth $599,970 is NASA’s second contract under the Innovative Lunar Demonstration Data Program. The total worth of the contract is $10 million.
The most challenging task lies in developing a robot which can cope with the grip caused by one-sixth gravity of the moon and to carry out mining operations amidst frozen dirt of the moon. The company had reported that one of their solutions include a bucket-wheel excavator which is mounted crossways to the direction of movement. Its wheels will be pushed slightly along one side by means of the push-back effect of the mining operation.
Chris Skonieczny, Project Leader has stated that hauling bulky equipment to the moon is very expensive hence they will deploy a robot weighing 70 to 300 pounds for performing lunar excavation. He added that in addition to the oblique bucket-wheel, their design employs complex components enabling low-weight and swift driving for an increased output.