PITTSBURGH, PA – August 8, 2011 – NASA today selected Astrobotic Technology Inc. to research breakthroughs in methods to explore lava tubes, caves and recently discovered “skylights” leading down into these features on the Moon and Mars.
Lava tubes and other types of caves can shelter astronauts and robots from harsh off-world environments, which on the Moon means micrometeorite bombardment, intense radiation and extreme temperature swings of 500 degrees from day to night. Cave-dwelling by early astronauts and robots likely will be less expensive than bringing shelter materials all the way from Earth.
Astrobotic Technology, in cooperation with Carnegie Mellon University, is preparing a robotic expedition to the Moon to be launched in the December 2013 – July 2014 time frame.
Astrobotic was one of 30 companies, universities and NASA organizations that were selected for negotiation today by the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program in the Office of Chief Technologist. The approximately $100,000 award is to cover a year-long study starting next month.
Astrobotic will be eligible for a $500,000 Phase 2 award next year to continue the work.
More information on the NIAC awards is available at http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/aug/HQ_11-260_NIAC_Selections.html.