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Lunar rover prototype unveilled for Moon mission

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The ELO2 Consortium’s pioneering lunar rover prototype, the result of Australian ingenuity in remote operations of mining equipment and aspirations in space, was unveilled in Adelaide today and could be on the way to the Moon courtesy of a NASA mission.

The prototype, to be named Roo-ver, is one of two being developed by different groups in competition for the coveted role collecting and transporting lunar regolith (Moon soil) to a NASA-run facility on the Moon.

The ELO2 Consortium is one of two Australian consortia working on the design with funding from the Australian Space Agency’s Moon to Mars Trailblazer Program Stage 1 for the Moon flight later this decade.

The ELO2 Consortium is co-led by EPE Oceania and Lunar Outpost Oceania and involves:

  • Lunar Outpost Oceania spearheaded the design and integration efforts out of its Melbourne office, with RMIT University’s Space Industry Hub and Advanced Manufacturing Precinct manufacturing the rover structure
  • Queensland-based EPE and The University of Adelaide are responsible for ongoing testing and evaluation of the rover
  • Inovor, based in Adelaide, provided the electrical power system, while Melbourne startup Element Robotics contributed to capability and autonomy systems
  • The University of Melbourne’s Space Laboratory conducted thermal analysis, with systems engineering support from Northrop Grumman Australia
  • BHP provided expertise in excavation, while The Australian National University Institute for Space (InSpace) supported the communications subsystems development
  • And VIPAC will conduct various flight qualification tests at facilities across Australia and Titomic, also based in Melbourne, will provide speciality flight part manufacturing if the ELO2 design is selected for Stage 2.

The ELO2 rover prototype traversed both a lunar and Martian-like surface in Adelaide through Lunar Outpost’s lunar mission ready Stargate remote operations software, in an end-to-end remote operation demonstration.

ELO2 Consortium Director from EPE Oceania, Ben Sorensen said: “In developing a lunar rover for Australia, ELO2 has supported over 40 new jobs, including interns, and expects to support more than 150 new jobs if awarded the next phase of the Moon to Mars Trailblazer Program.

“ELO2’s work is developing critical technologies essential to support the productivity and competitiveness of Australian industries and our collaboration with international partners.”

Further reading:
Designs for lunar soil sampling device revealed
Rolling for regolith – By Brent Balinski

Picture: ELO2

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