07 October 2020 Community news

UK-based Spacebit secures second mission to the Moon in 2021

Spacebit secures a second ride to the Moon, this time with Intuitive Machines on the Nova-C lander

Artist's render of Spacebit Wheeled Rover design in development. Image: © Spacebit
Artist's render of Spacebit Wheeled Rover design in development. Image: © Spacebit

Spacebit is developing micro-rover technologies and rover deployment systems to be able to carry scientific payloads in support of the Artemis Program space exploration and research goals. The UK-based company is the only commercial company to secure two consecutive NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) delivery missions to the Moon. Spacebit is one of the first commercial lunar companies that plans to fly on every NASA CLPS delivery on the market.

Intuitive Machines was awarded a NASA CLPS contract in 2019 and revealed details earlier this year for its first lunar landing in support of NASA’s Artemis program. The Houston-based company will launch its Nova-C lander in October 2021 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The target landing site is Vallis Schröteri (Schröter's Valley) in the Moon’s Oceanus Procellarum (Ocean of Storms). The company said the site is “flat, free of craters and rocks, and has abundant sunlight” throughout the 14-day mission.

To mark the UK’s First mission to the Moon, Spacebit has developed the World’s First ever Moon-Walking Rover, ‘Asagumo.’ The current landing schedule for Asagumo (Mission 1) is Q3 2021 onboard the first of several NASA CLPS commercial moon delivery assignments to advance Artemis. The 4-legged micro rover can adapt to and function in challenging spaces, in and around the lunar surface, specifically lunar lava tubes.

Spacebit is developing proprietary wheeled rover technology that will carry a standard 1/2U NASA payload module. The current landing schedule for the Spacebit wheeled rover (Mission 2) is in Q4 2021 on board the Intuitive Machines Nova-C lander. Asagumo and the wheeled rover are optimized for assessment of in-situ lunar resources, intended to support lunar exploration under the Artemis Program.

"We are very pleased to secure a second mission in 2021 for Spacebit with Intuitive Machines. By having a multi NASA CLPS mission delivery strategy, we will have higher chances of landing on the moon and conducting robotic prospecting and characterization of resources available in the lunar regolith - one of Spacebit’s key focus areas,” Spacebit says.

“Intuitive Machines was founded to support both government and commercial lunar surface transportation needs and provide responsive and affordable access to the Moon for innovative commercial enterprises such as Spacebit. The microrobotic technologies that Spacebit is developing and demonstrating on our CLPS flight next year will be a valuable addition to the suite of tools needed for commercial lunar development,” says Trent Martin, VP of Space Services, Intuitive Machines.

Steve Altemus, CEO, Intuitive Machines says; “Our Flight Services Agreement with Spacebit is another example of how the NASA CLPS program is enabling NewSpace companies to participate in the Artemis Program at an affordable price point and contribute to the development of a commercial lunar ecosystem to help build a vibrant Cis-Lunar Economy.”

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