A company from the UK called Spacebit has announced that it will put a rover on the moon in 2021. The mission will mark the first UK mission to the lunar surface. The rover the team is sending is very different from rovers typically sent to the moon and other planets.
Rather than being wheeled, Spacebit’s rover looks like a spider and will walk across the lunar surface. The official name is the Asagumo rover, and it’s built using a single-unit CubeSat frame typically used for small satellites. The rover tips the scales at only 1.3 kilograms and is solar-powered.
It’s design makes it very inexpensive. The mission will be launched on the first ULA Vulcan mission in Q3 2021. It’s hitching a ride to the lunar surface aboard the Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander spacecraft. The rover will move 10-meters from the lander and beam full HD video and 3D lidar data back to Earth from its onboard sensors in its initial demonstration mission.
Spacebit CEO Pavlo Tanasyuk talked about what the company hopes the mission will be able to accomplish. He said that with plans for humans to return to the moon, explorers would need somewhere to live. One option could be to seal the entrance of a lava tube to use as shelter. Spacebit believes the rover could play a role in exploring that possibility.
Since the rover walks on four legs rather than rolling on wheels, it can go on rugged terrain and explore locations on the surface of the moon wheeled rovers are unable to reach. The spider-like design of the rover makes it much more capable of climbing than wheeled rovers. Future missions from the company may have a rover design that uses the best of both worlds featuring both wheels and legs.