Yesterday Astrobotic Technology of Pittsburgh announced that it had been contracted by Toronto area company Canadensys to deliver payloads to the surface of the moon.
According to Astrobotic they will fly “a lunar science and technology payload that promotes Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)” for Canadensys in 2021. Additionally Astrobotic said this is only the first in a series of payloads they’ll fly for Canadensys. Details on the STEM payload will be released at a later date.
The payloads are likely to be delivered to the moon through NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program of which Astrobotic is one of nine potential providers.
Of the CLPS providers, Astrobotic is considered one of leading companies to fly first. They were also part of the Lunar X Prize competition before voluntarily leaving the competition to focus on executing their business plan, including technology development.
John Thornton, CEO of Astrobotic said “we’re thrilled to be helping Canadensys deliver their vision to the Moon. Canadensys is a distinguished player in the global space landscape and we think they are doing some really exciting things in space exploration. They are a well-proven space systems provider across Canadian and European space programs and it means a lot to us for Canadensys to have chosen to fly on our lander.”
Dr. Christian Sallaberger, President and CEO of Canadensys stated “we’re delighted to be flying with Astrobotic on their first mission. We have long appreciated their lunar lander development approach, balancing pace, ambition, sound engineering and strong partnerships. They were a natural choice for this particular payload. The real adventure, of course, still lies ahead. The next couple of years promise to be very exciting for lunar exploration in the US, Canada and other space nations, and we’re thrilled to be supporting several domestic, international and commercial interests with this latest collaboration.”
It was just a month ago that Canadensys was awarded a contract by the Canadian Space Agency through its Flights and Fieldwork for the Advancement of Science and Technology (FAST) program. Canadensys will provide Lunar Exploration Analogue Deployment (LEAD) Capability Demonstration mission.
Canadensys has been working for sometime on lunar rover technology. When the contract was announced last month, Dr. Nadeem Ghafoor, Vice-President, Space Exploration at Canadensys told SpaceQ that “Canada has been preparing for the next phase of lunar exploration for over a decade, and the past ten years have seen a wide range of Canadian capabilities explored and advanced. Over the last five years, however, we’ve really been focusing in on the technologies with most enabling mission impact in the immediate term, and in particular ruggedizing modern, low-cost robotic and spacecraft technologies so that they can last for operationally useful periods and/or distances on the lunar surface.”
He further stated “we’ve been deploying medium and large systems in the field for many years, and indeed these continue to be developed for the mid-2020s. But a new breed of smaller platforms & payloads will dominate the near-term government and commercial space landscape, and these present specific challenges in delivering meaningful science and exploration services at this smaller scale. Our LEAD activities this year thus focus on the optimization of these smaller class systems for maximum utility in the next few years of the new lunar exploration era. The investigations we conduct will address key design decisions being taken in the coming months on Canada’s own micro and nano-class lunar systems, and will help ensure they can deliver maximum value in the upcoming wave of international and commercial missions.”
It’s conceivable then that the payload Candensys sends to the moon in 2021 may be a micro or nano-class system.