|Spacebit's robots will explore the moon in 2021 / Photo Credit: canbedone (via Shutterstock)|
Elizabeth Howell of print and digital news publication Space reports that London-based company Spacebit will make their robotic spiders embark on a lunar journey in 2021, according to CEO Pavlo Tanasyuk. Spacebit is joining the “rush of missions going to the moon,” helping NASA push through with its pledge of landing humans on the surface by 2024.
Spacebit brings to the table its legged robots. The legs would enable the machines to crawl into cracks and crevices inaccessible to traditional space rovers. The mission design calls for a rover to deploy as many as eight robots to a drop-off point. The robots would leave the “mothership” and explore lunar caves in a swarm. Then, the machines would use AI to relay information about the moon’s history. “We don't have wheels – we have four legs instead of the wheels – which is a very neat design,” Tanasyuk explained at the International Astronautical Conference on October 24.
Spacebit intends to deploy its spider-like robots along with Astrobotic’s Peregrine moon lander, which is slated to launch on a United Launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur rocket in July 2021. This would serve as the lander and the Vulcan Centaur rocket’s first mission. Spacebit is hoping to make the landing. If everything goes according to plan, the Peregrine’s landing will allow Spacebit to score its first “exploration.” That is, to be the company that releases the first legged robot to venture into another world.
Tanasyuk also envisions making space explorations more accessible. The startup’s robots are built on a single-unit cubesat frame. A cubesat is usually used in small satellites. The robots cost $3 million each and are expected to be fully built within six to 12 months. Tanasyuk plans to sell the technology to potential customers such as universities and space agencies.
Since the missions use standardized equipment and off-the-shelf components, Tanasyuk conjectured that space exploration “will be more affordable,” motivating more entities to go to the moon. He added, “After 50 years' absence of humans on the moon, I believe that robotic missions will play a very major role in our comeback.”