Golden Spike, Honeybee Complete Preliminary Study on Lunar Rover

Honeybee-Golden Spike rover
Honeybee-Golden Spike rover

BOULDER, Colo., Jul. 8, 2014 (Golden Spike/Honeybee PR) — The Golden Spike Company, the world’s first enterprise planning to undertake human lunar expeditions for countries, corporations and individuals, and Honeybee Robotics, a premier developer of advanced robotic systems, today announced they have completed a preliminary design study for unmanned rovers capable of enhancing the next human missions to the Moon.

In partnership with technical staff at Golden Spike, Honeybee engineers conducted trade studies of both flight-proven and promising technologies to design configurable robotic rovers that can collect and store several kilograms of scientific samples from the Moon’s surface in advance of or in conjunction with Golden Spike’s human expeditions.

In 2013, an international scientific workshop led by Golden Spike proposed new concepts for lunar missions, including robotic-human expeditions. The proposal envisions sending robotic systems to the Moon to collect samples ahead of a crewed Golden Spike expedition to retrieve the robot’s cache. The concept allows the scientific return of a mission to be more extensive, since it would include samples collected by the rover many kilometers away from a landing site.

Honeybee Robotics met Golden Spike’s Science Advisory Board requirements with a design for a teleoperated rover that can traverse 10-100 km and collect both regolith and rock samples from multiple sites, storing them in individual bins for later analysis. The rover weighs just 77 kg as designed, with a stereo camera for enhanced imaging and navigation. The rover is designed with additional capacity to accommodate various payloads, such as Honeybee’s NanoDrill rock coring drill and other science instrumentation.

Honeybee has a heritage in planetary sampling and geotechnical analysis, having delivered systems for the last three of NASA’s Mars landers, including the Rock Abrasion Tool (http://www.honeybeerobotics.com/portfolio/rock-abrasion-t…) for the Mars Exploration Rovers; the “Phoenix Scoop (http://www.honeybeerobotics.com/portfolio/phoenix-scoop/)” for the Phoenix Mars Lander; and the Dust Removal Tool (http://www.honeybeerobotics.com/portfolio/dust-removal-tool/) and Sample Manipulation System for the Mars Science Laboratory. The company’s facilities are equipped with NASA-certified clean rooms and unique space environment simulation chambers.

“We’re excited to add the possibility of extending human lunar expedition productivity with precursor sample cache rovers that can make longer traverses than a human expedition can. Honeybee’s rover design study for us forcefully demonstrates the promise that such rovers can be accomplished with modest resources,” said Dr. S. Alan Stern, Golden Spike’s President and CEO.

“Our 25 year history developing space systems, including contributions to several Mars landers, enabled Honeybee to deliver an innovative but reliable rover design for Golden Spike’s lunar exploration program,” added Steve Gorevan, co-founder and Chairman of Honeybee Robotics. “Our experience includes developing dozens of planetary sampling, sample processing, instrumentation and mobility technologies for missions to the Moon, Mars, and asteroids, and we are proud we can contribute to both the scientific and commercial applications that Golden Spike is pursuing with its human and robotic lunar exploration.”

The study with Honeybee is one of a number that Golden Spike is undertaking with industry partners in preparation for future flight system procurements. Market studies conducted for the company show the possibility of 15-25 or more expeditions in the decade following a first landing.

About Golden Spike: The Golden Spike Company (GSC) is a US-based commercial space company incorporated in 2010 with the objective of providing human expeditions to the Moon for countries, corporations, and individuals in the 2020s. Golden Spike was named after the ceremonial final spike that joined the rails of the first transcontinental railroad across the United States on May 10, 1869, and opened up the North American frontier to new opportunities. Similarly, Golden Spike plans to break new ground and create an enduring link to the lunar frontier, providing regular and reliable expeditions to the Moon at prices comparable to flagship scientific robotic missions. For more information, go to www.goldenspikecompany.com.

About Honeybee Robotics: Honeybee Robotics develops advanced robotic and electromechanical systems that operate in challenging environments in space and on Earth. The company serves as a research and development partner to help solve its customers’ unmet needs with robotic systems that extend and enhance capabilities in extreme and unstructured environments. Since 1983, Honeybee Robotics has completed more than 300 advanced projects for NASA, the US Department of Defense, academia, and industry. Based in New York, the company maintains satellite offices in Longmont, CO and Pasadena, CA. For more go to: http://www.honeybeerobotics.com.