GRC's Moon Rover Mission (Update)

Editor's note: To follow up my earlier post "Does NASA GRC Have a Stealth Lunar Rover Project?" I asked the following specific questions of NASA PAO. This is what they sent back.


From: Michael Braukus
Subject: RE: Questions: GRC Highlander Lunar Rover Mission Development
Date: May 17, 2006 11:55:07 AM EDT
To Keith Cowing

Keith

Here's the answer to your core question. But let me give you some background.

A track rover was developed as part of GRC's Robotics Group and Carnegie Mellon University Lunar Rover Development and Demonstration Program. It was designed and built completely in-house as a test bed to develop components for the CMU Highlander rover that will begin field tests this summer. This tracked rover successfully demonstrated its climbing capabilities on May 4, 2006.

The solicitation you mentioned in your email is a $50 thousand sole source purchase for a radiation hardened computer for the CMU rover.

Glenn and CMU teamed on the RLEP-1 and 2 proposals, but their proposals were not selected.

Glenn is continuing to invest in this small, in-house effort to better position the center to compete for future work.


Editor's note: This was followed by a more detailed response answering the questions I had asked:
From: Michael Braukus
Subject: RE: Questions: GRC Highlander Lunar Rover Mission Development
Date: May 19, 2006 3:57:44 PM EDT
To: Keith Cowing

Keith Here are the answers. If you need more let me know. M

1. Is NASA GRC developing a lunar rover? If so what is its mission? When will it be launched?

No, they are not developing a lunar rover. GRC is using a rover system testbed to develop technologies that could be used in a lunar rover. This is not part of a flight project, so there are no current plans for a launch.

2. Is this project being done in house or with external commercial or educational partners - and who are these partners? Is Carnegie Mellon involved?

A track rover was developed as part of GRC's Robotics Group and Carnegie Mellon University Lunar Rover Development and Demonstration Program. It was designed and built completely in-house as a testbed to develop components for the CMU Highlander rover that will begin field tests this summer

3. Who is funding this program? How much funding has been alloted for this program?

It's an in-house project. The GRC effort was accomplished by civil servants and procurements were funded (<$50K) by a combination of ESMD and SMD program funding from related projects (e.g., low temperature mechanisms for Exploration). GRC provided a grant to CMU for $40K (with ESMD funds) to mitigate some of the CMU rover development costs, which are mostly funded by other CMU sources.

4. How does this rover relate to RLEP? Does ARC have any oversight for this rover project?

GRC acquired CMU as a partner through a competitive notice of partnering opportunity in support of the RLEP Secondary Payload proposal for a lunar lander/rover mission called "Highlander." The GRC proposal was criticized for lack of hardware maturity, prompting the lunar rover testbed to be more competitive for the next proposal. Ames has no oversight of this effort.

5. Why has there been no formal announcement about this rover development effort?

If by formal announcement you mean a press release, press releases are not issued for all grants. You can also ask CMU.

6. How were developmental partners chosen?

CMU filed for a grant to develop Highlander and was awarded funds.

7. Who is the project manager?

GRC's John Caruso, project manager for Ultra Low Temperature Mechanisms and Mobility, is overseeing this in-house effort.

8. Why is there no mention of this project on GRC's website?

This small in-house effort is still a work in progress.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on May 19, 2006 4:49 PM.

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