Astrobotic™ landers and rovers will carry commercial, government and scientific payloads to the lunar surface. The initial mission will have 175 lbs (80kg) of mass available, primarily on the Polaris rover.
The baseline price is $900,000 per lb. ($2 million/kg), with a $250,000 integration fee per payload regardless of mass. Payloads receive power, thermal control, mobility and communications to Earth included in the delivery price.
Scientific and engineering investigators will be able to get their instruments to the surface as ride-along passengers on full missions mounted and executed by Astrobotic Technology. This contrasts with the current requirement for most researchers to either create entire missions or find a way to ally with a mission leader in order to get the access they need. The Astrobotic offer is a straightforward, streamlined buy-by-the-pound approach. Payloads are screened only for safety and interference issues.
Parties interested in Astrobotic™ services should download and read the Astrobotic Technology Payload User’s Guide v2.5 and contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Example: Micro rovers
The Astrobotic lander will be able to carry small rovers under its deck, which can be released to gently drop down the one or two feet to the lunar soil. Video and data from these rovers can be relayed to Earth by the Astrobotic lander, reducing their cost and engineering complexity.
Example: Honeybee Robotics Payloads
Honeybee’s innovative soil sampler uses compressed gas to shoot regolith up a tube into a collection bin. One gram of gas can transport 6,000 grams (6kg) of soil.
Astrobotic Technology Inc. has signed a memorandum of understanding with Honeybee Robotics for payloads on Astrobotic’s expeditions. The MOU covers joint work to develop three payload elements for its rover and another three payload elements for the lander. The payloads include a drill with a 50cm reach, Jet Trencher, Regolith Excavator, Heat Flow Probe, Corner Cube Reflector, and Soil Samplers.
Learn more about the payloads here:
HD and 3D Video
Astrobotic robots will capture the “magnificent desolation” described by Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin in both high definition video and 3D video – the first lunar robots to accomplish either feat. Twin HD cameras will give armchair explorers back on Earth the opportunity to see the Moon with the clarity and depth perception enjoyed by the 12 astronauts who walked its strange surface.
- Blasting off from Cape Canaveral with a view from the spacecraft as the Earth falls away, shrinking to a blue marble in the vast blackness of space
- Plummeting down to the alien lunar surface, dodging last minute obstacles to find a safe spot to alight.
- Rolling off its landing platform, the rover is piloted by an amateur driver selected in a reality show competition.
- Roaming the Moon with millions on Earth seeing everything with crystal clarity and the you-are-there impact of 3D vision.
- Inscribing drawings on to the lunar surface with the tracks left by the rover, from artwork submitted in a global call for inspiring designs
- Witnessing the search for water ice, key to establishing self-sustaining robot and human villages on the Moon.
The expedition cameras will be capable of 1080p video (1920×1080 pixels) at a modest frame rate (nothing is moving on the Moon except for the rover, so high frame rates aren’t needed). Astrobotic is investigating whether higher resolution cameras (4K or 5K) can be hardened against radiation, vacuum and thermal challenges.
The twin HD cameras will be able to support any number of 3D playback technologies, from autostereoscopic displays (like the Nintendo 3DS) to polarized light used in theaters and most television sets down to red-blue anaglyphs viewed with inexpensive cardboard glasses.
Marketing on the Moon
Corporate marketers and game developers will have their first opportunity to exploit real lunar exploration with the expeditions now in development at Astrobotic Technology and its partner, Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute. Because these are not government missions, rights to their content and new ways to participate will be exclusively licensed rather than given away.
A fortunate few corporate marketers will be able to exploit this revolution in space media with high-impact promotions and brand-building. Astrobotic will work with companies to reward their customers with exciting roles in these lunar adventures. Several sponsored contests will be featured in reality-style television series prior to each expedition. And when the first rover lands on the Moon in a worldwide broadcast event, sponsors will see their brand and their customers on center stage.
In addition to the sponsorship opportunities listed below, the path-breaking nature of the Moon shot will spur marketers to devise additional branding and involvement initiatives. Astrobotic will work with sponsors to realize these visions.
Venues and schedule
- Sponsors (and their best customers) have VIP access to the on-going design and test activities at Robot City in Pittsburgh.
- Field trials are planned for lunar-like terrestrial locations, such as ancient lava flows and extreme desert sites. Sponsors’ promotions can select customers to join the robot-testing “away teams” at these exotic locales.
- Launch parties will be held at Florida’s Cape Canaveral, where sponsors will have VIP access to Launch Control as well as outdoor acreage for mass gatherings of customers.
- During the two-week expedition, sponsor executives and their clients will have behind-the-scenes access to Mission Control – and the right to personally drive on the Moon.
On the initial mission, Google and the X Prize Foundation will have 40 percent of all available logo space (subsequent expeditions will not have the GLXP logo). Corporate sponsors will earn logo space on the other 60 percent based upon their financial commitments.
The company’s name becomes part of the adventure’s title, such as “The XYZ Moon Trek” or “The XYZ Expedition.” The company also has the right to name the lunar robot, either for the company or via a public contest. The company will have the right to title the Launch Day party at Cape Canaveral, and executives of the title sponsor (and its special customers or vendors) will have two hours collectively to take control of the robot and drive across the lunar surface.
Drive on the Moon
The sponsor will attract customers with a “Drive on the Moon” promotion to select the first person to remotely drive the lunar rover after it rolls off the lander. The winner will have 15 minutes of fame, as his or her exploits are seen worldwide on television and the Web. This sponsorship can be expanded with additional “First Driver” contests that select winners from specific countries to drive on the moon – from the “First Japanese Lunar Driver” to the “First Brazilian Lunar Driver.” In addition, company executives or VIP customers will have 30 minutes (collectively) to drive on the moon.
The lunar driving rights could be controlled by an automotive company, or a gaming company could reward high scores with access to a truly “higher level” of play.
The sponsoring company will have exclusive rights to conduct educational events and promotions for all age groups from kindergarten through graduate school. For example, the education sponsor could brand a unique challenge to encourage science and technology students: the chance design a half-pound device that would be operated on the moon – a tiny machine, a bio-dome, or other idea.
The company will have the right to offer named Lunar Scholarships and/or Lunar Internships with winners hosted by Astrobotic Technology and Carnegie Mellon University. Astrobotic will work with the education sponsor to provide company-branded educational materials to classrooms, via collaborations with teacher associations. Astrobotic will develop the content for the materials (posters, comics, DVDs, Web sites). The sponsor’s executives and special customers will have 30 minutes collectively to drive on the Moon.
The expedition will combine elements of American Idol with the Amazing race – a competition to find a person with the right talents to communicate the mission’s adventure to the public, as a co-host with a professional presenter. On-air presence combined with quick wit and fast learning ability will be required of the winner. Initial entries come via YouTube-style clips of the presenter involved in a space, robotics or exploration topic. The adventure’s global television and Web feeds will be seen by billions of people, making this contest unprecedented in its ability to propel the winner into worldwide fame.
The communications sponsor – a network carrier or a handset maker – will control a very exotic promotional event: the ability to send text messages and e-mails via the Moon. During the two weeks of exploration, the rover will have the ability to relay text messages and e-mails “postmarked” with a snapshot of the lunar surface being crossed at the moment of relay. The communications sponsor also can offer exclusive access to its customers to talk to the rover as it explores – the robot will be able to conduct thousands of simultaneous conversations.
The computing sponsor will be the exclusive source for software that displays the live data being received at Mission Control as the expedition unfolds. This experience can be exclusive to one computer manufacturer’s line or to one operating system. The Mission Control access also provides users with the most HD video from the expedition of any source.
Chief Photographer / Videographer
The photography sponsor can run a promotion to select a customer to become the Chief Photographer and/or Videographer for the expedition. The Chief Photographer will have an “all access pass” to document the terrestrial field trials and Launch Day preparations. During the robot’s lunar expedition, the winner will be in Mission Control to create special shots – taking control of the telephoto camera and directing the robot’s navigators to place it in selected positions.
The expedition offers several music promotions. One songwriter-artist can be selected to premiere a new piece, the first music ever revealed from the surface of another planet. In addition, the expedition can bring a personal music player to the lunar surface, filled with the playlist of a lucky customer. The music player will await its chance to entertain future generations of tourists who come to visit the historic site.
Technology components selected for the mission will have global exposure to avid followers of advanced initiatives. Select companies will be allowed to use the mission logo in their marketing materials.
Additional information can be secured by contacting President David Gump by email: email@example.com.
Data & Services
Expeditions will generate diverse data
Astrobotic’s landers and rovers will generate multiple data sets in the course of their normal operation, which will be available for licensing. Example data sets include:
- Thermal histories of major components of the landers and rovers throughout the two-week lunar day.
- Dust degradation of radiator effectiveness over time.
- Wheel sink and slippage as a metric for soil mechanics across long traverses.
- Micro-topographic maps of selected areas.
Astrobotic will evaluate new technologies for possible incorporation into its landers and rovers. In some cases, adoption of a vendor’s new technology will hinge on securing a partnership where Astrobotic gains access to the technology in exchange for providing the developer with flight experience.
Astrobotic landers and rovers will be available for tasking on an hourly or daily basis. In many cases, the initial lunar day of an expedition will be devoted to a specific goal but when the robot awakes at the next dawn, the cost of renting their services will be very affordable.
Initially robots will have drills to acquire soil samples and analytical equipment to study them. Subsequent robots will be able to excavate, build infrastructure, and roam extensively. Eventually a suite of robots with diverse skills will be available for rent on the lunar surface to enable affordable preparations for research outposts and permanent human settlements.
High definition 3D video from the Moon is a form of time sharing, as Astrobotic rovers provide media outlets with licensable video rights of the lunar frontier’s creation. More information is available in the “HD and 3D video content” section.
The Google Lunar X PRIZE
Land anywhere and win
The Google Lunar X PRIZE rewards a mission that lands anywhere on the Moon, with a $30 million total purse. The X PRIZE Foundation has several primary requirements must be met to win the $20 million grand prize:
- Send eight minutes of HD video of the landing and initial views
- Beam back an email, video, data package, and sound track controlled by the Foundation
- Travel at least 500 meters, using a rover or by relaunching the spacecraft
- Send another eight minutes of HD video from the new location
- Complete the mission before Dec. 31, 2015
Astrobotic was the first competitor to announce its intention to pursue the prize.
A second prize of $5 million is available, as is a $4 million bonus pool for additional accomplishments and a $1 million diversity prize available to any competitor that stays in the race until it is won. The grand prize drops by $5 million if any government funded mission lands first and demonstrates mobility on the surface.
Google Lunar X PRIZE competitors are allowed to earn revenue by performing services and carrying payloads for government space agencies, so long as they are awarded under “commercially reasonable” competitive contracts. Noncommercial grants and gifts from governments must be limited to 10 percent of a mission’s costs for an entrant to remain eligible for the Google prize.
The Google Lunar X PRIZE represents less than 9% of the expected revenue of Astrobotic’s initial mission. The first and subsequent expeditions will be profitable regardless of the outcome of the race.