NASA Selects Astrobotic for 2 Small Business Awards to Improve Spacecraft Operations

A rendering of Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander is shown, with NASA’s three water-detecting payloads (MSolo, NSS, and NIRVSS) highlighted in blue. (Credit: Astrobotic Technology)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has selected Astrobotic Technology for two Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards to develop technology to help spacecraft improve proximity operations in orbit and avoid hazards when landing on other worlds.

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COVID-19 Delays to Cost NASA $3 Billion

High-resolution illustration of the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope against a starry background. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will cost NASA an estimated $3 billion due to program delays, according to a report from the space agency’s Office of Inspector General.

The report focused on the pandemic’s impact on 30 major programs and project with life-cycle costs of at least $250 million.

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Sierra Nevada Wins NASA Contract to Power Water-Seeking VIPER Lunar Rover

NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, is a mobile robot that will roam around the Moon’s south pole looking for water ice. The VIPER mission will give us surface-level detail of where the water is and how much is available for us to use. This will bring us a significant step closer towards NASA’s ultimate goal of a sustainable, long-term presence on the Moon – making it possible to eventually explore Mars and beyond. (Credit: NASA Ames/Daniel Rutter)

SPARKS, Nev., March 29, 2021 (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), the global aerospace and national security company owned by Eren and Fatih Ozmen, was awarded a contract for a program supporting NASA’s water-hunting robot mission to the moon. SNC will contribute its cutting-edge solar array technology to power a rover on the lunar surface in its mission to identify and quantify water and volatile resources, helping advance the agency’s Artemis program. 

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NASA JSC Receives Griffin Lunar Lander Model for Rover Testing

HOUSTON (Astrobotic Technology PR) — After being transported more than 1,300 miles, Astrobotic’s Griffin Lander Analog Model (GLAM) arrived at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) early this month. This model is an analog prototype of the Griffin lander that will deliver NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) to the Moon in 2023. Astrobotic designed and constructed the GLAM at their “Moon Base” headquarters in Pittsburgh, PA.

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Astrobotic Selects Agile Space Industries to Provide Attitude Control Thrusters for Lunar Missions

NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, is a mobile robot that will roam around the Moon’s south pole looking for water ice. The VIPER mission will give us surface-level detail of where the water is and how much is available for us to use. This will bring us a significant step closer towards NASA’s ultimate goal of a sustainable, long-term presence on the Moon – making it possible to eventually explore Mars and beyond. (Credit: NASA Ames/Daniel Rutter)

DURANGO, Colo., February 16, 2021 — Polar Moonshots are in a league of their own when it comes to the level of difficulty. In order to overcome this historically daunting challenge for the first-ever Griffin Mission transporting NASA’s VIPER rover to the Moon’s South Pole, NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services Program selectee Astrobotic is enlisting Agile Space Industries to help them go where no American spacecraft has gone before. Astrobotic’s Griffin Mission lander is relying on Attitude Control Thrusters (“ACT”s), from Agile to provide steering capabilities in the vacuum of space. Agile’s innovative custom propulsion solutions utilize 3D printing of exotic metal alloys to provide unprecedented performance, along with minimized mass and cost.

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Astrobotic Selects Lander Engines & More for Griffin/VIPER Mission

PITTSBURGH, February 16, 2020 (Astrobotic PR) — Astrobotic’s Griffin Mission One (GM1) team has selected Agile Space Industries for Attitude Control System (ACS) thrusters and Frontier Aerospace for axial engines for their Griffin lunar lander. Astrobotic’s Griffin will deliver NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) to the South Pole of the Moon in late 2023. Upon landing, VIPER will map the presence of water ice on the Moon.

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Lunar Traffic to Pick Up as NASA Readies for Robotic Commercial Moon Deliveries

This photograph of a nearly full Moon was taken from the Apollo 8 spacecraft at a point above 70 degrees east longitude. Mare Crisium, the circular, dark-colored area near the center, is near the eastern edge of the Moon as viewed from Earth. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA is working on various science instruments and technology experiments from the agency that will operate on the Moon once American companies on Commercial Lunar Payload Services  (CLPS) contracts deliver them to the lunar surface. Through CLPS flights, NASA is buying a complete commercial robotic lunar delivery service and does not provide launch services, own the lander or lead landing operations.

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Astrobotic Selects Navigation Doppler Lidar from Psionic for Mission to Deliver VIPER to the Lunar Surface

A visual rendering of Griffin utilizing Navigation Doppler Lidar sensor to guide landing on the lunar surface. (Credit: Psionic LLC)

Navigation Doppler Lidar chosen for high accuracy and NASA heritage for 2023 CLPS mission to search for water on the Moon

PITTSBURGH, Pa. and HAMPTON, Va. (Astrobotic PR) — Astrobotic today announced they have selected Navigation Doppler Lidar (NDL) from Psionic for their mission in late 2023 to deliver NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) to the South Pole of the Moon.

The NDL serves as a critical sensor element as part of the Griffin Lander’s Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GN&C) system to ensure a safe, precise landing. In June 2020, NASA awarded a $199.5 million contract to Astrobotic under its Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative. 

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Astrobotic Completes Successful Testing with NASA’s Water Detecting Payloads

A rendering of Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander is shown, with NASA’s three water-detecting payloads (MSolo, NSS, and NIRVSS) highlighted in blue. (Credit: Astrobotic Technology)

PITTSBURGH (Astrobotic PR) — Three of NASA’s payloads set to fly aboard Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander in 2021 have successfully completed preliminary interface simulation testing between Astrobotic, NASA’s Ames Research Center, and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center payload teams.

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NASA Perseveres Through Pandemic to Complete Successful 2020

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2020, NASA made significant progress on America’s Moon to Mars exploration strategy, met mission objectives for the Artemis program, achieved significant scientific advancements to benefit humanity, and returned human spaceflight capabilities to the United States, all while agency teams acted quickly to assist the national COVID-19 response.

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Commercial CubeRover Test Shows How NASA Investments Mature Space Tech

The Astrobotic CubeRover traverses the terrain in the Granular Mechanics and Regolith Operations Laboratory regolith bin at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Dec. 10, 2020. The regolith bin simulates the mechanical properties of the Moon’s surface. NASA and Astrobotic employees put the CubeRover through a series of more than 150 mobility tests over several days to evaluate and improve wheel design. (Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

by Linda Herridge
NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center

Researchers at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida recently put a new, small robotic rover through its paces inside a 120-ton bin of regolith rock and dust that simulates the lunar surface.

The four-wheeled CubeRover rolled over dunes of abrasive dust, turned in place, and then trundled up and down steep trench walls within the Granular Mechanics and Regolith Operations (GMRO) laboratory as it performed more than 150 mobility tests. The rover’s creators, from Astrobotic Technology of Pittsburgh, worked alongside Kennedy’s Swamp Works team, assessing the robot’s maneuverability and how its sensor, motor, and power systems operated in the dusty environment.

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NASA Seeks More Lunar Science, Technology Experiments for Artemis Program

The Moon as seen from the International Space Station (Credit: ESA/NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — With five robotic flights to the Moon already booked through 2023, and a sixth award expected soon, NASA is seeking suites of new science investigations and technology experiments for future commercial lunar deliveries as part of the Artemis program.

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Astrobotic & University of Pittsburgh’s SHREC Partnering for Space Technologies Research

Teams will work together to translate concepts into tangible innovations that will support lunar landings, rover missions, satellite servicing, and more.

PITTSBURGH (Astrobotic PR) – Astrobotic and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Center for Space, High-performance, and Resilient Computing (SHREC) are pleased to announce a partnership to develop new software and hardware technologies for future space applications.

The SHREC consortium, led by the University of Pittsburgh, is an NSF Industry-University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC) and will work together with Astrobotic by pairing first-class academic researchers with engineering teams to translate concepts into tangible innovations that will support lunar landings, rover missions, satellite servicing, and more.

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VIPER Rover Will Get Driving Headlights

Using a special lab at NASA’s Ames Research Center designed to mimic lunar terrain as it would appear in different areas at the Moon’s poles, the VIPER team tests out lighting systems for the rover with a very low-angle illumination simulating the Sun. (Credits: NASA/Dominic Hart)

MOFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — As it journeys into some of the darkest and coldest spots in the solar system, NASA’s new water-hunting Moon rover, VIPER, will need some very robust headlights to light the way.

In the extremes of light and dark found on the Moon, shadowed and lit areas are in such high contrast that any contours in the landscape are effectively invisible in the darkness. To navigate this world, VIPER’s rover drivers will rely on a system of rover-mounted lights and cameras to steer clear of boulders, descend steep declines into craters and avoid other potentially mission-fatal dangers.

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How do we get There from Here? With Suborbital Flight Testing

Image shows Trona Pinnacles near California’s NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center during Jan. 31 Super Blue Blood Moon. Trona Pinnacles is an unusual geological feature of the state’s Desert National Conservation. (Credits: NASA / Lauren Hughes)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — Standing here on Earth, on a clear night we can look to the sky and see the destination for NASA’s Artemis program: the Moon. Seemingly close, but still quite far. Yet the space between us and that source of fascination is ripe with possibilities for helping mature the technologies we will need to get there, stay there, and venture beyond to Mars.

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