When it comes to space exploration, leaders are increasingly fascinated with unmanned exploration of space.

According to the New York Times, A NASA team, lead by Stephen J. Altemus, has come up with a plan to send a robot to the moon. The plan has been given the cool nickname Project M.

The price of the lunar exploration robot, including the cost of a rocket to send it to the moon, is only about $450 million dollars. The robot itself is less than $200 million and can be ready in less than 1000 days, according to Altemus and his team of engineers at Houston’s Johnson Space Center, who basically put together the plans for the robot in their spare time using spare money from discretionary funds.


Leading grass-roots efforts within JAXA and NASA have yet to be officially embraced.
An image from the SOHLA website, who aim to create a robot that is capable of walking on the moon.

A humanoid dextrous robot — at least the top half — already exists: Robonaut 2, developed by NASA and General Motors, is packed on the shuttle Discovery, scheduled for liftoff to the International Space Station. It will be the first humanoid robot in space.

But prospects for sending a robot to the moon are at best uncertain. So far, NASA has been cool to the idea of Project M, which is almost a guerrilla effort within NASA, and Administer Bolden cited that the Japanese space agency already wants to send a two-legged robot to the Moon by 2020.

But according to an article in the Australian, JAXA would prefer to concentrate on building a sensor array for the International Space Station and, if JAXA is to send a robot to the Moon, it wants something more traditional that uses wheels.

It seems, just like Project M, the momentum behind the Japanese robot is coming from a small team working within JAXA, known as the Space Oriented Higashiosaka Leading Association (SOHLA).

Sending a robot to the Moon is far easier than sending a person. For one, a robot does not need air or food. And there is no return trip. There are other technical issues; the one-sixth gravity presents problems for stable movement, and moon dust clogs joints– but perhaps the biggest hurdle is getting approval from the Space Agencies themselves.

Posted by: Soderman/NLSI Staff
Source: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/health-science/japan-plans-to-send-a-robot-to-the-moon/story-e6frg8y6-1225947783972 ; and

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/02/science/space/02robot.html?_r=2&pagewanted=1&partner=rss&emc=rss

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