Astrobotic has introduced LunaGrid, the power generation and distribution service for lunar landers, rovers, habitats, science suites and other systems. In this way, the different systems that reach the Moon from space agencies, companies and non-profit organizations can be recharged to survive the lunar night and operate indefinitely on the natural satellite.
Astronaut habitats, in situ resource utilization systems, communication networks, long-distance vehicle mobility, far-side observatories, and commercial business plans require a large amount of uninterrupted power. Without power, most operations will be limited to a single lunar day (14 Earth days), as the lunar night harbors unsustainably cold conditions (as low as -220 degrees C). To address this challenge and enable human and robotic performances on the Moon for several years, LunaGrid will supply power to these systems.
LunaGrid is the culmination of Astrobotic’s systems development. It makes use of the company’s landers, rovers and wireless chargers, as well as its vertical solar array (VSAT) technology, which is under development at Astrobotic in conjunction with NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. Astrobotic received a follow-on $6.2 million contract from NASA in August to further advance its VSAT systems.
The first deployment of the LunaGrid system will integrate a VSAT on an Astrobotic lunar lander and will fly to the Moon in a single launch vehicle. Upon landing, the lander will deploy its VSAT to begin generating solar power. Power from the VSAT will be distributed via wireless chargers and connected CubeRovers, which act as mobile power outlets for customers on the Moon by bringing VSAT-generated power to surface assets. Each VSAT will include the necessary transformers and power management systems to expand power capabilities beyond the VSAT itself and into an entire electrical grid.
“Over the past 15 years, we’ve come to appreciate that the power of the Moon is everything,” said Astrobotic CEO John Thornton. “By leveraging existing technologies already in development at Astrobotic, we can bring a much-needed energy service to the Moon in a short time. Solar power is affordable, commercially friendly, technically mature and deployable now. LunaGrid’s solar system offers the world the fastest and cheapest means of establishing a sustained lunar presence without political obstacles.”
Astrobotic plans to begin deploying and demonstrating the LunaGrid beginning in 2026 with the goal of having the first operational LunaGrid at the lunar south pole in 2028. With LunaGrid power service available, a host of scientific, exploration, and commercial activities can begin sustained, continuous operation.