Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Progress on Carnegie Mellon University's Lunar Landing Craft

CMU and Astrobiotic Technology have one of the twenty-nine privately-funded teams from 17 countries on 4 continents competing for the Google Lunar X Prize worth $20 million and more to the first to land a robot on the moon that will travel at least 500 meters on the surface while transmitting video, images and data back to Earth.

The structure of the half-ton aluminum landing craft that will deliver the Red Rover robot to the moon in April, 2014 was just completed and will be shipped to a Boeing facility in California for shake tests to assure it will not flex or fail.

Over the next two years, CMU Professor Red Whittaker, also CEO of Astrobiotic Technology, says the team will add to the landing craft a fuel system, engines, wiring, computers and software, which will also undergo vacuum, thermal and more shake tests. He says there will be many moon missions in search of both scientific and economic benefits.

Much of the project has been invented and crafted in Western Pennsylvania, with software from ANSYS in Canonsburg and aluminum and expertise from Alcoa.

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