Honeybee Robotics and mPower Technology Chosen to Design Lunar Charging Station for NASA
Companies collaborate to provide game-changing solution for vertically deployable solar array
As electric vehicle charging stations are popping up across the globe, the Moon may soon join in the trend. NASA has selected five commercial teams to develop designs for vertically deployable solar array systems for the lunar surface as part of the Vertical Solar Array Technology (VSAT) project within NASA's Game Changing Development program. These systems may one day be used as charging stations to recharge rovers, battery packs, and other electrical equipment used by spacecraft and astronauts. These solar charging stations would be dropped off by lunar rovers and would deploy large solar arrays to supply sustainable power. The stations would be easily maneuverable, folding up into a volume of less than half a cubic meter for ease of transportation between charging sites.
Two uniquely innovative companies, Honeybee Robotics of Altadena, California, and mPower Technology of Albuquerque, New Mexico, have teamed and will be awarded one of these NASA development contracts. mPower is an industry leader in the design and fabrication of lightweight, flexible, resilient space-qualified photovoltaics, called DragonSCALES™. Honeybee is a world leader in robotics for extreme planetary environments. These two organizations form a powerhouse team that will provide a unique groundbreaking solution to the challenges of providing portable power on the lunar surface.
The concept, called the Lunar Array Mast and Power System (LAMPS), will use some of the lightest solar panels ever made. LAMPS extends these solar panels to a height of two stories and unfolds another two-and-a-half stories of panel material using a patented, new deployable boom.
"Honeybee has spent decades designing, testing, and flying mechanisms for planetary surfaces," said Kris Zacny, VP of Honeybee's Exploration Systems division in Altadena, Calif. "Our expertise in subsurface drilling is now going to be flipped on its head to 'dig' up, rather than down. We are thankful to NASA for being selected and very excited by the possibility of combining our expertise, with that of mPower, to make LAMPS a reality."
One of the key technologies incorporated in the LAMPS system is DragonSCALES, a solar module solution, developed by mPower Technology. This lightweight, flexible and resilient power source may be a key enabler for NASA's design goals.
"We are pleased to be partnering with Honeybee to bring innovative space solar power to NASA's VSAT project," said Kevin Hell, chief executive officer of mPower Technology. "DragonSCALES is ideally suited for harsh space environments such as those on the Moon and we look forward to potentially leveraging this technology across a wide range of space and lunar deployments."
About Honeybee Robotics
Honeybee Robotics creates advanced robotic systems for the world's most demanding environments and applications. We are an R&D engineering company that creates unique solutions for our customers' challenges, on Earth and in space. Our robotic solutions are designed to enhance the user experience and extend capabilities beyond what's currently possible. Industries we serve include spacecraft, planetary exploration, defense robotics, medical devices, mining, oil & gas, and utility infrastructure. We make next-generation applications a reality through creative, collaborative engineering that combines the best minds with the best technology. As an R&D service provider, we are deeply committed to delivering results for our customers and partners, from early-stage feasibility studies, to prototyping, to production and product validation. Since 1983, we have completed more than 300 advanced projects for NASA, the US Department of Defense, academia, industry and others. For more information visit www.honeybeerobotics.com.
About mPower Technology
mPower Technology is shaping the future of solar power with a revolutionary new technology called DragonSCALES™