Astrobotic announced that the company won a $34.6M NASA Tipping Point partnership to demonstrate power transmission on the lunar surface. The award will result in a demonstration on the Moon called LunaGrid-Lite, which will transmit power from a lunar lander to a tethered rover.
During this demo, an Astrobotic 6U CubeRover will unreel 1 kilometer of cable from an Astrobotic lunar lander and receive the first high voltage power transmitted through a cable across the lunar surface. The demonstration will serve as a pilot for Astrobotic’s LunaGrid service, which will deliver commercial power service by the Watt to future customers on the lunar surface.
The full LunaGrid system will be a power generation and distribution service that could utilize the 20-meter-tall Vertical Solar Array Technology (VSAT) currently being developed under another NASA contract at Astrobotic. In the LunaGrid-Lite demo, the lander’s solar arrays will play the part of the VSAT in generating power. Following landing, a CubeRover carrying a spool of specially designed cable will egress from the lander and deploy the cable to the lunar surface. Finally, the system will transmit 1 kW of power from the lander’s solar arrays through the cable to the CubeRover. Sensors throughout the payload will characterize and verify the system’s performance.
“LunaGrid-Lite will pave the way for power generation and distribution services on the Moon, and change the game for lunar surface systems like landers, rovers, habitats, science suits, and in-situ resource utilization pilot plants. With renewable, uninterrupted commercial power service, both crewed and robotic operations can be made sustainable for long-term operations.”
said John Thornton, Astrobotic CEO.
The 6U CubeRover will be delivered on an upcoming Astrobotic lander mission as early as 2026 and will push Astrobotic’s lunar power service, LunaGrid, past the commercial tipping point by advancing three critical gap technologies – a high voltage power converter, cable, and cable stowage and deployment system.
With all major elements of LunaGrid now funded, Astrobotic plans to deploy the service before the end of the decade to begin serving the Artemis program, CLPS, international space agencies, and commercial businesses on the Moon.