The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has an update on Astrobotics lunar mining plans, including interviews with Red Whittaker and David Gump:
Astrobotic’s planned 2014 mission consists of a robot that would use a circular bucket wheel and a large bin to collect lunar soil for the inaugural attempt to mine the moon at its south pole, said Chris Skonieczny, Astrobotic’s principal researcher and a CMU doctoral candidate in robotics.
The moon’s resources open up possibilities not feasible on Earth that include manufacturing rocket propellant, developing energy sources to power machines and building structures that humans would need to live and work there.
As technologies advance, construction would be cheaper on the moon, Whittaker said. Humans won’t have to build things on Earth and transport them to the moon.
NASA awarded Astrobotic a $600,000 contract last month for the proposed 2014 mining expedition, Mueller said. That’s on top of a $10 million contract NASA awarded the company last month for the 2013 mission if it successfully collects data about how to land at a precise location and avoid last-minute obstacles like boulders and small craters unseen from orbit, Gump said.
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