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Lightweight Robotic Excavation

Award Information

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2011 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Astrobotic Technology, Inc.
PA Pittsburgh, PA 15222-4613
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 2
Fiscal Year: 2011
Title: Lightweight Robotic Excavation
Agency: NASA
Contract: NNX11CB55C
Award Amount: $749,956.00


Lightweight robotic excavators address the need for machines that dig,collect, transport and dump lunar soil. Robust and productive smallrobots enable mining rich and accessible deposits of ice and othervolatiles buried near craters at the lunar poles, delivering resources toproduce propellant, and thus making space exploration sustainable.Lightweight excavators bridge the gap between prospecting and full-scaleISRU.A lightweight robot is proposed that excavates and delivers regolith withproduction so superior to the state of the art as to enable realisticlunar and planetary applications. Demonstration of light weight will beachieved by operating a low mass robot in Earth gravity reduced 5/6 byoffloading.The significance of the proposed innovation is an approach that not onlyperforms the required tasks but is low in mass (30 kg to 150 kg). Massconstraints make productive excavation challenging. However, innovativedesigns incorporating transverse bucket-wheels, high payload compositedump beds, and high-speed driving are game changers, enabling regolithoperations in low gravity. Phase 1 experimental results show that payloadratio and driving speed govern productivity of small robots.Phase 2 will elevate TRLs from 3 at the beginning to an estimated 4 or 5at end of contract.

Principal Investigator:

David Gump
Principal Investigator

Business Contact:

David Gump
Business Official
Small Business Information at Submission:

Astrobotic Technology, Inc.
PA Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3524

EIN/Tax ID: 262383764
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No