Author Topic: SpaceX rideshare payload - Astrolab lunar FLEX rover - mid-2026  (Read 3569 times)

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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https://astrolab.space/news/blog/145

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Astrolab’s FLEX Rover to be Launched on Upcoming SpaceX Mission to the Moon
03.31.23
FLEX rover expected to be the largest and most capable rover ever to travel to the Moon

HAWTHORNE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)—Today Venturi Astrolab, Inc. (Astrolab), announced it has reached an agreement with Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) for the company to transport Astrolab’s Flexible Logistics and Exploration (FLEX) rover on an upcoming mission to the Moon. SpaceX will use the Starship launch and landing system for this mission as soon as mid2026.

Upon completion of this mission, Astrolab’s FLEX will become the largest and most capable rover to ever travel to the Moon. With a maximum combined rover and cargo mass of more than two tons, the FLEX rover is nearly three times the mass of its largest predecessor. This increased capacity provides significantly more opportunities to conduct scientific experiments and commercial endeavors on the lunar surface. Astrolab has already signed several customer agreements to carry payloads on this mission. The company expects to release details of these agreements later this spring. 

FLEX is more than a rover, it’s a logistics system for missions to the Moon and Mars
Historically, planetary rovers have been custom designed for each specific mission. These missions typically have occurred around once every ten years. But with the rapid increase in launch cadence along with the significant increases in payload capacity of launch vehicles, this bespoke approach to rover design is no longer practical or efficient.

That’s why Astrolab designed the FLEX rover to transport and deploy payloads in a modular system. Astrolab seeks to prove the benefits of having a highly capable and versatile rover to establish infrastructure, conduct high-priority science, and deploy technology demos and other specialized systems on the lunar surface. Astrolab plans for this rover to be the first in a fleet of FLEX rovers on the lunar surface that will accelerate the vision of creating a permanent human presence on the Moon, and eventually Mars. 

“Our Astrolab team has created much more than a rover for use on the Moon or Mars,” said Jaret Matthews, Founder and CEO of Astrolab. “We’ve created a logistics system that can accommodate a wide variety of cargo. We expect that that this approach will help establish a permanent lunar outpost on the Moon at a lower cost and in less time than previously envisioned. We are delighted that this contract with SpaceX will allow Astrolab to demonstrate the advantages of the FLEX rover and its modular payload system.”

“Starship is designed to transport large amounts of cargo, including rovers, to the Moon and Mars for research and exploration,” said Tom Ochinero, Senior Vice President, Commercial Business, SpaceX. “Developing sustainable outposts will require lunar logistics and transportation on the surface of the Moon, like what Astrolab offers. We look forward to working with the Astrolab team to deliver their FLEX Rover to the surface of the Moon.”

In addition to being able to operate FLEX on the lunar surface from Earth, Astrolab designed the vehicle to serve as an unpressurized rover for a crew of two astronauts on the lunar surface. This design is compatible with NASA’s requirements for its Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV), the rover which will be a standard component to the agency’s Artemis program long-term. 

Testing is ongoing

FLEX is more than just a concept. Last year, the Astrolab team began testing a full-scale, fullyfunctional terrestrial prototype of the FLEX rover in the California desert. Tests included both crewed and telerobotic operations, deployment of a variety of large payloads, science operations with its robotic arm, and engineering testing of the rover’s mobility performance in challenging terrain. Testing has continued in lunar analog sites around California throughout 2022 and into this year.

To learn more about Astrolab, the FLEX rover, the details of our Mission 1, and how your cargo can accompany FLEX to the Moon in 2026 – please visit: astrolab.space.

About Astrolab

Venturi Astrolab, Inc. (Astrolab) is on a mission to move humanity forward to the next horizon by designing, building and operating a fleet of multi-purpose rovers for all planetary surface needs. Formed by a highly specialized team of NASA veterans, former SpaceXers and JPL engineers, Astrolab is laser-focused on providing adaptive mobility solutions essential for life beyond Earth. The team has industry leading experience in terrestrial and planetary robotics, electric vehicles, human spaceflight and more. Astrolab’s depth of experience and strategic partnerships with a wide array of world-class institutions, including electric vehicle pioneer Venturi Group, enables the delivery of Lunar and Mars mobility offerings at maximum reliability, flexibility and cost effectiveness. The company is headquartered in Hawthorne, California. For more information, visit astrolab.space and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram.
« Last Edit: 04/01/2023 02:01 pm by gongora »

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I know it's likely this is a rideshare, but is it actually confirmed?

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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I know it's likely this is a rideshare, but is it actually confirmed?

From:

https://spacenews.com/astrolab-to-send-rover-to-the-moon-on-spacexs-starship/

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Jaret Matthews, founder and chief executive of Astrolab, said in an interview that the mission, which will include 1,000 kilograms of customer payloads, will be the first flight of the FLEX rover. It will be a rideshare payload on a Starship mission landing somewhere in the south polar region of the moon.

Offline DanClemmensen

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I know it's likely this is a rideshare, but is it actually confirmed?
This depends on your definition of "rideshare". The announcement is about FLEX and its hosted payloads, all of which will end up on the lunar surface. The announcement tells us FLEX will ride on Starship, but does not say whether or not the Starship will also carry additional separate payloads either to the Lunar surface or to any other destination. The hosted payloads are  carried on FLEX and FLEX can apparently manipulate them in various ways after FLEX reaches the lunar surface. I guess you can say these payloads "rideshare" on FLEX.

Offline wannamoonbase

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A Starship landing on the moon in mid 2026 seems optimistic but it’s encouraging to see a growing lunar manifest.
Wildly optimistic prediction, Superheavy recovery on IFT-4 or IFT-5

Offline DanClemmensen

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A Starship landing on the moon in mid 2026 seems optimistic but it’s encouraging to see a growing lunar manifest.
Artemis III is supposed to fly in December 2025. It includes the second lunar landing of Starship HLS. The uncrewed Starship HLS demo is supposed to fly before then.

If the FLEX landing in 2026 seems optimistic, then the entire Artemis program is even more optimistic.

Offline Robotbeat

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Well it kind of is. Not that it won’t happen, but it’s most certainly very optimistic.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Comga

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A Starship landing on the moon in mid 2026 seems optimistic but it’s encouraging to see a growing lunar manifest.

Artemis III is supposed to fly in December 2025. It includes the second lunar landing of Starship HLS. The uncrewed Starship HLS demo is supposed to fly before then.

If the FLEX landing in 2026 seems optimistic, then the entire Artemis program is even more optimistic.

Maybe it’s just realistic about ridesharing on one of those two flights.

Astrolab can plan for 2026 and wait for Artemis to “slide right“ to meet them.

(Major discussion may follow whether NASA would allow paid cargo on their mission, but that seems likely to me.)
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

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I publish information in Spanish about space and rockets.
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Offline Yiosie

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Astrolab announces first customers for commercial lunar rover mission [dated Nov. 21]

Quote from: SpaceNews
Lunar rover developer Astrolab announced eight customers have signed contracts worth more than $160 million for its first mission to the moon in 2026.

The company, formally known as Venturi Astrolab Inc., announced Nov. 21 that it signed the customers to fly payloads on Mission 1, a flight of the company’s Flexible Logistics and Exploration (FLEX) rover slated for as soon as mid-2026. Astrolab announced a contract with SpaceX in March to launch FLEX on that mission on a Starship commercial lander.

<snip>

Argo Space Corp., one of the customers of Mission 1, plans to fly a demonstration payload on the rover to test technology to extract low concentrations of water from lunar regolith. Astroport Space Technologies will send a payload to test how to sort lunar regolith to obtain grains best suited for producing lunar bricks as construction materials. Avalon Space will contribute an unspecified series of “science, exploration and sustainable development” experiments.

Interstellar Lab will fly two small pods carrying plants that the rover will deploy on the lunar surface to see how the plants grow in the lunar environment. LifeShip will send a capsule carrying a DNA seed bank and data archive as part of that company’s effort to establish a seed bank on the lunar surface as an “off-world backup.”

Three customers remain undisclosed for now, although Astrolab said in the statement those customers plan to disclose their participation closer to the launch. Astrolab is continuing to look for customers for Mission 1, noting that the FLEX rover has a payload capacity of 1,500 kilograms and a modular system for accommodating a range of payloads.

Offline gongora

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https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20231121296003/en/

HAWTHORNE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today Venturi Astrolab, Inc. (Astrolab) announced it has reached an agreement with eight enterprise customers to use its Flexible Logistics and Exploration (FLEX) rover to deploy the customers’ payloads on Astrolab’s upcoming mission to the Moon which is known as Mission 1. Five customers are releasing details of their payloads today: Argo Space, Astroport, Avalon Space, Interstellar Lab, and LifeShip. Three more customers are contracted with Astrolab but intend to release details of their payloads at a future date, closer to launch. Collectively, these eight contracts are valued at more than $160 million.

As part of Mission 1, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) will transport Astrolab’s Flexible Logistics and Exploration (FLEX) rover to the lunar surface. SpaceX will use the Starship launch and landing system for this mission as soon as mid-2026. Following landing on the Moon, FLEX will deploy payloads for each of the customers. SpaceX and Astrolab expect Mission 1 to be completed as soon as mid-2026.

“Our entire Astrolab team is excited to welcome these businesses to Mission 1,” said Jaret Matthews, CEO and Founder, Astrolab. “Together, they represent a cross-section of the emerging lunar economy. As we get closer to our launch date, we expect to make additional customer announcements.”

Matthews added that given FLEX’s total payload capacity of 1,500 KG, Astrolab is able to substantially lower the cost of deploying payloads on the lunar surface while providing unparalleled maneuverability, range, power, and communications capabilities. The company estimates its prices are approximately ten times more affordable than those of competitors.

The Astrolab customers announced today include:

Argo Space Corp. (Argo) of Hermosa Beach, California intends to use FLEX to deploy a demonstration payload that will advance the development of Argo's unique, scalable technology designed to harvest low-concentration water from Lunar regolith. Argo’s novel processing approach will economically extract water outside of permanently shadowed regions (PSRs). This mission is a major step in the company’s efforts to use water from regolith for commercial applications to make in-space transportation abundant and build a Lunar economy. “We’re excited to work with Astrolab on this and future missions to catalyze a commercial Lunar economy and a sustained presence on the Moon,” said Robert Carlisle, CEO, Argo Space.

Astroport Space Technologies of San Antonio, Texas builds infrastructure for the Moon, and intends to melt regolith to make bricks for roads, launch and landing pads, and shelters. To understand the properties of the regolith in the lunar environment, the payload will demonstrate a proof of concept for a proprietary sieving and grain separation technology that mitigates electrostatic forces inherent in the regolith. This technology will isolate the regolith grains that are ideal for manufacturing lunar bricks. FLEX’s robotic arm will collect regolith for the sieving and grain separation experiment.

Separately, the Astroport payload also includes a limited number of personalized lunar simulant basalt bricks sold exclusively for placement on the lunar surface to mark the start of the first road on the Moon. “Our ideal customer for our personalized brick program is someone from an Artemis Accords signatory country who places an order for a brick to be made from the basalt soil of their respective country,” said Sam Ximenes, CEO, Astroport. FLEX will use its robotic arm to install these bricks to begin the construction of this initial lunar road.

Avalon Space of Toronto will use FLEX to conduct a series of science, exploration and sustainable development experiments focused on the emerging lunar economy, leveraging a suite of both onboard and deployed elements on the lunar surface.

“I don’t think anyone doubts that there will likely be a pre-Starship and post-Starship point in human history,” said Dr. Nadeem Ghafoor, CEO of Avalon Space. “We’re thrilled to be working with Astrolab and our international and commercial partners on this first mission to help unlock the potential of this new era of beyond-Earth orbit development. The next decade is going to change everything, and we’re looking forward to doing our part to help it be as peaceful, collaborative, impactful and economically significant as possible.”

Interstellar Lab of Ivry-sur-Seine, France and Kennedy Space Center, Florida plans to use FLEX to deploy the two small plant pods on the lunar surface. Once deployed, Interstellar Lab will measure the impact of the lunar environment on the plant’s phenotype and molecular composition.

"We are very excited to team up with Astrolab for our mission LITTLE PRINCE,” said Barbara Belvisi, founder and CEO, Interstellar Lab. “As Antoine Saint Exupéry wrote: 'If you love a flower that lives on a star, it is sweet to look at the sky at night. All the stars are a-bloom with flowers.'

“This is the first of many Interstellar Lab missions,” Belvisi added. “We look forward to helping our terrestrial customers access Space and grow a garden on the Moon.”

LifeShip, Inc. of San Diego, California intends to use FLEX to deliver a capsule containing a DNA seed bank and data archive to the lunar surface. LifeShip is saving the essence of Earth across space and time, with products for people to include themselves in the story. “This is an exciting mission! With LifeShip, anyone can be part of humanity's eternal legacy amongst the stars. People can add their DNA, photos, and stories at www.lifeship.com,” said Ben Haldeman, CEO, LifeShip.

LifeShip is establishing a seed bank of Earth's biodiversity on the lunar surface. “Humans have built seed banks here on Earth for thousands of years. This will be an off-world backup of our biosphere,” Haldeman added.

Upon completion of Mission 1, Astrolab’s FLEX will become the largest and most capable rover to ever travel to the Moon. With a maximum combined rover and cargo mass of more than two tons, the FLEX rover is nearly three times the mass of its largest predecessor. FLEX is also equipped with a highly dexterous robotic arm that can be used to deploy customer payloads, manipulate instruments, and collect samples. This increased capacity and versatility provides significantly more opportunities to conduct scientific experiments and commercial endeavors on the lunar surface.

To learn more about Astrolab, the FLEX rover, the details of Mission 1, and how your cargo can accompany FLEX to the Moon in 2026 – please visit astrolab.space.

About Astrolab

Venturi Astrolab, Inc. (Astrolab) is on a mission to move humanity forward to the next horizon by designing, building, and operating a fleet of multi-purpose rovers for all planetary surface needs. Formed by a highly specialized team of NASA veterans, former SpaceXers and JPL engineers, Astrolab is laser-focused on providing adaptive mobility solutions essential for life beyond Earth. The team has industry leading experience in terrestrial and planetary robotics, electric vehicles, human spaceflight and more. Astrolab’s depth of experience and strategic partnerships with a wide array of world-class institutions, including electric vehicle pioneer Venturi Group, enables the delivery of Lunar and Mars mobility offerings at maximum reliability, flexibility and cost effectiveness. The company is headquartered in Hawthorne, California. For more information, visit astrolab.space or follow on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram.

About Argo Space

Argo Space Corp. is a venture-backed startup founded by former SpaceX leaders, based in Hermosa Beach, California. Argo is working to catalyze a Lunar economy through the use of Lunar water. The company provides transport services from low Earth orbit to geosynchronous and Lunar orbits using its refuellable, water-powered in-space transport vehicles. Argo will ultimately source this water propellant from the Moon. By creating in-space commercial value for a Lunar resource, Argo aims to expand humanity’s economic sphere to the Moon and build a commercially sustained Lunar presence.

About Astroport

Astroport Space Technologies, Inc. was founded in 2020 as a technology venture arm and a subsidiary of Exploration Architecture Corporation. Astroport is developing patent-pending regolith solidification technologies for lunar infrastructure construction using 3D printing and autonomous robotics, with an initial focus on lunar landing pad emplacements. The company was founded with a vision to design, deploy, and operate interplanetary landing ports to facilitate safe, reliable, and efficient spaceflights to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

About Avalon Space

Avalon Space is a Toronto-based space services and infrastructure company dedicated to accelerating the pace of humanity's expansion out beyond Earth orbit. Avalon works with actors across the space ecosystem, from mission and system developers to user groups across multiple market sectors, on growing the infrastructure that can unlock a more sustainable, inclusive, and commercially scalable path for the human and robotic exploration decade ahead.

About Interstellar Lab

Founded late 2018, Interstellar Lab is a biotech American-French startup that develops, manufactures, and commercializes biofarming platforms combining advanced hardware, AI-enabled control and bio-science for high-precision plant cultivation on Earth and in Space. Their highly controlled environment pods enable sustainable, efficient, and durable production of plant-based ingredients used by the Natural Ingredients, Cosmetics, Pharmaceuticals and Food industries. The company has also developed strategic partnerships with NASA and ESA for food production and plant research in microgravity. Based in Ivry-sur-Seine, France and at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Interstellar Lab today has over thirty employees from SpaceX, Airbus, Trimble, and InFarm, and is backed by venture capital and institutional investors in the U.S. and Europe.

About LifeShip

LifeShip is a mission to connect humanity with the cosmos, back up Earth, and spread life to the stars. LifeShip sends spacetime capsules to the Moon and beyond that are plant seed banks, DNA biobanks, and data archives. We're a community-powered space exploration mission where people add their DNA and story to population banks of humanity, as well as a data and biological archive for organizations to preserve content in Space.
« Last Edit: 11/21/2023 11:05 pm by gongora »

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https://twitter.com/interstellarla/status/1727093345020002375

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So thrilled to announce that our Mission LITTLE PRINCE to grow flowers on the Moon will fly with @Astrolab_Space on @SpaceX  Starship Mission 1! Growing flower on the Moon and bring hope for a future full of life on Earth and beyond🚀🌸 #spacetech #backtothemoon

https://interstellarlab.com/news/interstellar-lab-partners-with-astrolab-to-grow-flowers-on-the-moon

Reminds me of Elon’s original Mars Oasis project.

« Last Edit: 11/22/2023 12:27 am by FutureSpaceTourist »

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