The Omega Envoy Project, the “Florida Team” competing in the Google Lunar X PRIZE, and the only student formed and led team, announced during the International Space Development Conference (ISDC) a significant milestone in their progress towards the moon: a realistic demonstration of core rover technologies.
In collaboration with 4Frontiers Corporation and the National Space Society, the team is sending their rover prototype to the Mars Society’s Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) on Devon Island for the month of July 2009.
The rover is a prototype capable of withstanding the terrain near the North Pole during this summer month. Outfitted with a communications and video package designed jointly by Omega Envoy and the University of Central Florida DARPA team, the rover will be subjected to many conditions similar to those to be encountered during Omega Envoyâ€™s mission to win the Google Lunar X PRIZE.
The team will continuously operate the rover via the internet from their headquarters in Orlando, FL. This demonstration will prove key technologies and provide essential operational experience related to communicating with and controlling the rover from a remote location, providing a deeper understanding of the complexities to be encountered with their lunar rover.
â€œThis is a spectacular opportunity for our student led team to show their talents and capabilities in this highly competitive competition,â€ said Jason Dunn, Omega Envoyâ€™s Engineering and Space Concepts Director.
Project Director Ruben Nunez concurred, â€œThis shows that we have assembled a capable and effective team, truly a force to be reckoned with.â€
Besides demonstrating key aspects of the Omega Envoy design, the rover will aid the research conducted on site. 4Frontiers sought the involvement of the Omega Envoy team to aid the expeditionâ€™s investigation of the use of unmanned vehicles systems to enable and enhance the capabilities of human explorers during lunar and Mars missions.
The Omega Envoy team will direct the rover as a “scout” for the simulation crew, providing situational awareness while they are inside the habitat. The rover will explore the terrain surrounding the habitat, providing unique perspective. Additionally, the rover will provide a live feed during crew excursions, showing how a rover can assist mission support in following the crewâ€™s work.
4Frontiers Vice President Joseph Palaia endorsed the collaboration, â€œIâ€™m looking forward to working with the Omega Envoy team as they contribute directly to the success of our research and of the FMARS 2009 expedition.â€