Robotics Company Unveils Plans to Develop Power Grid on the Moon

by Tia Bailey

A robotics company released some interesting plans. The company is planning for a moon power service.

Astrobotic, a “privately held company that is developing space robotics technology for lunar and planetary missions,” shared their plans to develop a power grid on the moon. The company announced the plan at the International Astronautical Congress.

Chief Executive of Astrobotic, John Thornton, shared a statement about the plan. He said that a power system is “essential” for systems that can survive for “multiple extended periods” on the moon.

“What we need is long-term infrastructure that can be there and last multiple years,” Thornton said. “We see this as the grid for the surface of the moon, principally at the poles.”

According to Space News, Vertical Solar Array Technology (VSAT) arrays, “solar arrays that are deployed vertically and are optimized for operations at the lunar poles, where the sun is always low on the horizon,” would be generating the power for the grid.

The company very recently won a $6.2 million award from NASA. Astrobotic received the award to “develop and test prototypes of that solar array, one of three the agency made for similar technologies.”

The plan, called LunaGrid, “is the culmination of technologies that have been in development for years by the company, which is best known for the commercial lunar landers it is building for NASA and other customers,” Thornton said.

“It uses every part of the company and showcases why we’ve been looking at developing all of these capabilities because, ultimately, we think that power on the moon is going to be a bigger long-term business than any of our other businesses,” he added.

The first operational system from LunaGrid is planned for 2028, although some parts may be ready sooner.

Astrobotic Shares Moon Power Plans

“It could be deployed mid-decade, in time for an Artemis astronaut to actually be able to plug into it,” Thornton said. “This is not a long-term technology that needs continued development.”

Thornton also shared that the primary customers, at first, will most likely be NASA and its Artemis Partners. Additionally, missions should be more affordable since companies will not have to develop their own moon power systems.

This will be a pricey project, of course. But, Space News reports that Thornton said it should be “hundreds of millions,” but “not billions.”

NASA Capsule Tumbles Towards Moon

NASA’s CAPSTONE capsule has been experiencing some issues recently.

“The vehicle was attempting to communicate with the ground for approximately 24 hours before any telemetry was recovered,” they said. “At the point of recovery, the spacecraft was not in a stable configuration, it was not power positive. And the system was experiencing periodic resets.”

NASA issued an update a few days after the announcement. They shared that Advanced Space is currently preparing for a “detumble” operation that will hopefully regain control of the craft.