Astrobotic announced October 1 that it had delivered its first CubeRover to NASA concluding a $750,000 NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 2 contract.
NASA awarded Astrobotic with a Phase 2 SBIR contract in May 2018 for the development of a modular rover design that could accommodate payloads with varying mass, power, thermal, and communications demands.
The CubeRover Astrobotic developed in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University with input from NASA is available in three standard sizes: 2U, 4U, and 6U. Like CubeSats, each CubeRover unit (U) supports a 10 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm payload with a mass of one kilogram.
“Because our CubeRover is so light — in the four kilogram range — it dramatically reduces flight cost, making the Moon more accessible to more customers,“ said Mike Provenzano, Astrobotic Director of Planetary Mobility. “We’re also including industry standard interfaces throughout the rover to simplify the payload integration process.”
The 2U prototype CubeRover delivered to NASA earlier this month will be put through its paces at the Kennedy Space Center’s Granular Mechanics and Regolith Operations Laboratory in Florida. It will undergo a battery of tests on a simulated lunar surface to determine the slopes, gaps, and other surface irregularities the rover is capable of navigating.
Development of the CubeRover will continue through February 2022 under a $2 million NASA Tipping Point contract. The contract allocates funds to allow Astrobotic to develop a flight qualification article of the 2U CubeRover that will be launched aboard a lander destined for the surface of the Moon.