. Space Travel News .

CMU and Astrobotic Technology Complete Structural Assembly of Lunar Lander
by Staff Writers
Pittsburgh PA (SPX) Jun 17, 2011

Nick Litwin, an engineering student at Carnegie Mellon University, checks a fastener on a newly assembled lunar lander designed to deliver a robot to the moon in 2014 and win the Google Lunar X Prize, a $30 million competition. The lander was built by Astrobotic Technology Inc. and Carnegie Mellon and is being shipped this week to the Boeing Co. in El Segundo, Calif., for testing. (PRNewsFoto/Carnegie Mellon University, Tim Kaulen).

Astrobotic Technology Inc. and Carnegie Mellon University researchers have completed structural assembly of the lunar landing craft that will deliver the Red Rover robot to the moon in 2014. The half-ton aluminum structure will now be shipped to Boeing Co. facilities in El Segundo, Calif., for shake testing to confirm its soundness and its compatibility with the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

Astrobotic plans to land the spacecraft, carrying both the robot and a commercial payload, on the moon's Sea of Tranquility or on the Marius Hills next to a recently discovered "skylight" leading down into a volcanic cave. The solar-powered Red Rover will broadcast high-definition video to Earth as the four-wheeled robot explores the moon.

Astrobotic aims to claim up to $36 million in awards from the Google Lunar X Prize, a NASA landing contract and a Florida launch bonus. The Google Lunar X Prize is a $30 million competition for the first privately funded team to send a robot to the moon, travel 500 meters and transmit video, images and data back to Earth.

"This lunar lander will be a key part of our initial moon mission and we expect to re-use this design for a series of missions that will establish Astrobotic Technology as an ongoing, exploration enterprise," said William "Red" Whittaker, CMU professor of robotics and Astrobotics' CEO and chief technical officer. "It's an amazing piece of technology and it's gratifying to know that so much of it was invented and crafted here in Western Pennsylvania."

The team used engineering simulation software provided by ANSYS Inc. of Canonsburg, Pa., to calculate the design's strength and stiffness. Pittsburgh-based Alcoa provided technical expertise, the aluminum used to create the structure of the lunar lander, and the fasteners that hold the lander together.

Its largest component is a 10-foot-diameter, 1-inch-thick deck made from two slabs of solid aluminum joined via stir welding by Concurrent Technologies Corp. in Johnstown, Pa., and machined by Edgar Industries in New Kensington, Pa.

Assembly took place in the Planetary Robotics Lab in Carnegie Mellon's Gates and Hillman centers; a grant from the state of Pennsylvania enabled construction of the lab, which was finished in 2009.

When the craft is completed, the deck will support four spherical fuel tanks capable of carrying almost two tons of propellant. A single main engine controlling the lander's descent will sit below the deck and eight thrusters on the deck's periphery will provide stability. A cone-shaped structure atop the deck will connect to the 173-pound Red Rover.

The lander also can carry up to 242 pounds of commercial payload and will have rechargeable batteries and solar panels capable of providing 500 watts of power during daylight.

In February, Astrobotic signed a contract with SpaceX to launch its mission on a Falcon 9 rocket, the same vehicle that NASA will use to send supplies to the International Space Station.

The Falcon 9 will throw the Astrobotic spacecraft into a lunar trajectory for a four-day cruise to the moon. Navigation software, developed at Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute so vehicles could drive themselves safely and reliably, will be used to guide the spacecraft to a soft and precise landing on the moon. Fold-down ramps will allow the rover to roll down either side of the lander, in case one side is blocked by a boulder or crater.

A unique aspect of the expedition is the inclusion of interdisciplinary arts projects created by students and faculty based in the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon's College of Fine Arts. CMU Professor Lowry Burgess is coordinating the historic Moon Arts project.

In addition to Carnegie Mellon, the mission is supported by industrial partners such as International Rectifier Corporation and corporate sponsors such as Caterpillar Inc.

Related Links
Carnegie Mellon University
Mars News and Information at MarsDaily.com
Lunar Dreams and more

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries

. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Looking at the volatile side of the Moon
Paris, France (ESA) Jun 01, 2011
Four decades after the first Moon landing, our only natural satellite remains a fascinating enigma. Specialists from Europe and the US have been looking at ESA's proposed Lunar Lander mission to find out how to seek water and other volatile resources. Europe is developing the technology for the Lunar Lander mission, a precursor voyage to the Moon in preparation for human exploration beyond ... read more

Arianespace receives the next Ariane 5 for launch in 2011

SpaceX Secures Launch Contract In Major Asian Market

SES-3 Satellite Arrives At Baikonour Launch Base

Shipments Of Sea Launch Zenit-3Sl Hardware Resume On Schedule

Phobos slips past Jupiter

Countering Contamination for Mars Spacesuits

19-Mile Mark See Opportunity For A Solar Panel Clean Up

Camera Duo on Mars Rover Mast Will Shoot Color Views

CMU and Astrobotic Technology Complete Structural Assembly of Lunar Lander

Looking at the volatile side of the Moon

Blood Red Moon Predicted

NASA Releases New Lunar Eclipse Video

'Dwarf planet' is covered in crystal ice

Carbon monoxide detected around Pluto

The PI's Perspective: Pinch Me!

Later, Uranus: New Horizons Passes Another Planetary Milestone

A golden age of exoplanet discovery

CoRoT's new detections highlight diversity of exoplanets

Rage Against the Dying of the Light

Second Rocky World Makes Kepler-10 a Multi-Planet System

NASA Issues Announcement For Solar Electric Propulsion Studies

Former Astronaut Develops Powerful Rocket

Commercial Rocket Engine Test Firing Experiences Early Shutdown

ISRO to begin flight testing of GSLV MkIII in next two years

China's second moon orbiter Chang'e-2 goes to outer space

Building harmonious outer space to achieve inclusive development

China's Fengyun-3B satellite goes into official operation

Venezuela, China to launch satellite next year

Pan-STARRS Telescope Finds New Distant Comet

UMD-Led EPOXI Science Team Publishes Latest Comet Findings

Coming Into Focus Minor Planet Vesta

Science Paper Details NASA Epoxi Flyby of Hyper Comet

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2011 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement