Thursday, October 30, 2008

Prizes at Lunar Meeting

The Joint Annual Meeting of LEAG-ICEUM-SRR (Lunar Exploration Analysis Group, International Lunar Exploration Working Group, and Space Resources Roundtable) is in session, and lunar prizes are a part of it. Here's the program (PDF); you'll find a lot of interesting-sounding topics there if you follow the links. On prizes:

COMMERCIAL LUNAR DATA COLLECTION AND LICENSING TO REDUCE EXPLORATION COSTS (PDF) - Astrobotic representatives - I agree that the typical "form/disband" cycle often seen in planetary science missions is wasteful. Let's keep the successful teams together, and if possible leverage the technologies they've demonstrated to the fullest. This approach would be useful even in a non-commercial planetary science environment. Here's part of the abstract that advocates a new way of doing business:

Space agencies traditionally have offered one-time funding events to attract ad hoc teams of academics and aerospace contractors to develop special-purpose hardware to acquire planetary data sets. Following most missions, the team is disbanded and the hardware designs might never be used again. The worldwide interest in sustained lunar activities offers an opportunity to change this paradigm by sustaining stable teams repeatedly using familiar and lunar-tested hardware designs. This will lead to cost savings for the governments seeking lunar data. ... In July 2008, Astrobotic Technology was awarded a NASA contract to study the most effective regolith moving approaches for site preparation prior to emplacement of the agency’s first lunar outpost. It plans to eventually conduct these site prep activities for NASA, other space agencies and commercial entities on a fixed-cost basis.

More from Astrobotic:

Google Lunar X Prize Competitor Plans Series of Moon Landing Missions - Astrobotic Technology Expeditions Will Build Lunar Data Library - SpaceRef - The company today released a White Paper on its data library at the annual combined meeting of the International Lunar Exploration Working Group, the Space Resources Roundtable and the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group. The paper is available on the company's Web site, It invites the world's space agencies, aerospace corporations, university researchers and industrial firms to outline which data packages are highest priority for them.

Private Firm Reveals Ambitious Moon Mission Plan - - A private group planning to launch a moon rover to the famed Apollo 11 landing site in a bid to win a $20 million prize announced an ambitious plan Thursday to send five more spacecraft to explore the lunar poles.

Google Lunar X Prize Competitor Plans Series of Moon Landing Missions - Astrobotic Technology Expeditions Will Build Lunar Data Library - Centre Daily Times

Now on to some other lunar competitors:

INTERNATIONAL LUNAR OBSERVATORY ASSOCIATION (ILOA): 3 MISSION UPDATE -- ILO-X PRECURSOR, ILO-1 POLAR, ILO HUMAN SERVICE MISSION (PDF) - Steve Durst, Space Age Publishing Company - This covers the ILO/Odyssey Moon plan for the Google Lunar X PRIZE mission and follow-on missions.

A Proposal for “The [Insert Sponsor Here] L2 Cup” (PDF) - Proposal: The L2 Cup would be a crewed spacecraft race modeled on offshore sailing races such as the Rolex Fastnet Race or the Volvo Ocean Race blended with certain financial aspects of the America’s Cup. The proposal is directed at private groups such as Space Adventures, Ltd. that could take a leadership role in organizing an event to facilitate commercial and international synergy ... Race Course: The proposed L2 Cup Race would begin in LEO and upon race start the competing spacecraft would proceed to EML-2 where they would perform a mandatory loiter within a specified distance from EML-2. Thereafter, the spacecraft would return to LEO where they would finish the race.

ESA’s Lunar Robotics Challenge (PDF) - ... to develop a robotic vehicle that is capable of overcoming difficult terrain comparable to that at the lunar poles. ... This paper will present the outcome of the challenge, which takes place in week 43 (20-26th October) 2008, i.e. right before the 2008 ICEUM10/LEAG conference.

Contract Incentives for an Open Architecture International Lunar Network Including Google Lunar XPrize (PDF) - ... A variety of scientific instruments that are recognized as elements of a lunar science network might be contractually placed in this manner on private landers. ...

Also of interest:

THE EUROPEAN STUDENT MOON ORBITER (ESMO): A SMALL MISSION FOR EDUCATION, OUTREACH AND LUNAR SCIENCE (PDF) - The primary objectives of the ESMO mission are (1) to launch the first lunar spacecraft to be designed, built and operated by students across ESA Member and Cooperating States; (2) to place the spacecraft in a lunar orbit; (3) to acquire images of the Moon from a stable lunar orbit and transmit them back to Earth for education outreach purposes; (4) to transfer to a science orbit, and perform niche measurements of interest to lunar science and exploration.

Possibly in conflict with the goal of commercial lunar support is the following: Unpressurized Cargo ORION a Launch Opportunities for Lunar Missions (PDF) - The Orion/Aires I launch vehicle can be used as a launch platform for lunar missions while the Orion is enrooted to the ISS. Studies at the GSFC indicate that a 50 kg payload can be placed in lunar orbit using this launch method.

More GLXP news (I don't know if it was announced at the meeting or not; there are LOTS of abstracts and I didn't check them all):

Odyssey Moon and NASA in partnership - RLV News

LUNAR LANDER DEAL STRUCK - Cosmic Log - more about the Odyssey Moon/NASA deal - Sid Sun, project manager for the Common Spacecraft Bus collaboration at NASA's Ames Research Center, told me that the arrangement calls for Odyssey Moon to pay the space agency as much as $500,000 over the next two years.