Australian Team Unveils Lunar Rover Prototype, Vying for Spot in NASA's Artemis Missions

Australian Team Unveils Lunar Rover Prototype, Vying for Spot in NASA’s Artemis Missions

An Australian team just unveiled their first lunar rover prototype, designed to potentially roll across the moon’s surface. The rover was shown off at a recent space forum as Australia guns for a spot in NASA’s upcoming Artemis missions.

The prototype comes from Australian consortium ELO2, one of two firms picked for the country’s $150 million Moon to Mars initiative. The program funds Aussie companies to build Artemis-bound rovers.

If selected, ELO2’s rover would haul lunar soil samples to a facility that extracts oxygen. The design leverages insights from ELO2’s prior lunar mobility rover, tailored for commercial moon operations.

ELO2 is leaning on innovative 3D printing, like metal printing from Brisbane’s Titomic. Titomic’s novel “Cold Spray” technique enables high-performance parts ideal for aerospace.

ELO2 says their prototype can drive over 2 kilometers lugging payloads, hitting max speeds of 10 cm/s – proving out lunar surface viability. Since parent company Lunar Outpost already has flight heritage with NASA, it reduces risk for the new Aussie rover.

The main job will be transporting regolith to an oxygen extraction plant. It’ll survey sites, gather soil samples, and deposit them at the facility. Over time, its autonomy should improve through repeated tasks.

It may also inspect assets, prep surfaces, and conduct end-of-mission activities. While ELO2 develops their prototype, a second Aussie consortium called AROSE is designing a similar rover.

Each team got $4 million initially to build test rovers. If Australia hopes to secure a coveted spot in Artemis, this prototype needs to wow NASA. By drawing on proven designs and advanced manufacturing, ELO2 aims to rally national pride and send the first Australian rover to the moon.