Boulder, Colorado. December 11, 2013. The Golden Spike Company has announced a partnership with Honeybee Robotics to design unmanned rovers capable of enhancing the next human missions to the Moon. Working with technical staff at Golden Spike, Honeybee engineers will conduct trade studies for the design of configurable robotic rovers that can collect and store scientific samples from the Moon’s surface in support of Golden Spike’s expeditions. The results of the study will be complete by mid-2014.
Golden Spike is is a US-based commercial space company incorporated in 2010 with the objective of providing human exploration expeditions to the Moon for counties, corporations, and individuals in the 2020s. Golden Spike plans to providing regular and reliable expeditions to the Moon at prices comparable to flagship scientific robotic missions.
Honeybee has extensive expertise in planetary sampling and geotechnical analysis, having delivered systems for the last three of NASA’s Mars landers, including the Rock Abrasion Tool for the Mars Exploration Rovers; the “Phoenix Scoop” for the Phoenix Mars Lander; and the 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 very proud to be working with Honeybee, which has tremendous experience and a record of successful performance in the development of flight systems for NASA,” said Dr. S. Alan Stern, Golden Spike’s President and CEO.
“For over 25 years, Honeybee has been delivering innovative robotics for space and planetary exploration,” said Steve Gorevan, co-founder and Chairman of Honeybee Robotics. “Our team has experience developing dozens of planetary sampling, sample processing, instrumentation and mobility technologies for missions to Mars, the Moon and asteroids. It is an honor to be working with Golden Spike and helping them advance human spaceflight through lunar exploration.”
Earlier this year, 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 miles (kilometers) away from a landing site.
Golden Spike’s lunar science advisory board chair, Dr. Clive Neal, of Notre Dame University, applauded the partnership with Honeybee, saying it would enhance the scientific potential of Golden Spike’s human missions. “Honeybee brings a unique body of knowledge and skills to help us augment the capabilities of human exploration missions with advanced robotics,” Dr. Neal said. “Their participation is a key step forward in helping Golden Spike change the paradigm of human space exploration, through the development of highly capable lunar exploration system architecture for customers around the world.”
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 already conducted for the company show the possibility of 15-25 or more expeditions in the decade following a first landing.
Source: Golden Spike/Honeybee Robotics