Startups granted millions of dollars toward efforts to develop lunar rovers and asteroid mining
The world of startup technology is now setting its sights on the moon and beyond. Space News is reporting (link) that Golden, CO-based Lunar Outpost has raised $12 million in seed money from several investors to further develop a line of robotic lunar rovers.
The company is working on its first rover, the Mobile Autonomous Prospecting Platform (MAPP). The plan is to have the rover join on Intuitive Machines IM-2 lunar lander scheduled for launch in 2023.
A second rover will launch with Intuitive in 2024. Both are part of NASA’s commercial lunar services program.
Lunar Outpost’s rovers weigh 10 to 20 kilograms each, but the company envisions an even larger rover weighing approximately 100 to 200 kilograms that will be capable for operating for years on the lunar surface.
Besides lunar rovers, Lunar Outpost has also developed a line of environmental monitors called Canary for terrestrial applications.
Another startup, AstroForge, based in Huntington Beach, CA announced May 26 it raised $13-million in “seed-plus.”
The startup is part of the Y Combinator business accelerator that is taking a fresh look at asteroid mining using proprietary technology it claims can enable the mining of platinum-group metals from near Earth asteroids.
NASA is investing in technical concepts aimed at exploring lunar craters and mining of asteroids. Robots surveying lunar craters and mining resources in space could help NASA establish a sustainable presence on the moon, part of the agency’s broader moon to Mars exploration approach.