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Lunar Rover: Made in Australia, going to the Moon

The Adelaide-based ELO2 Consortium has unveiled its pioneering lunar rover prototype, demonstrating Australia’s potential to support a future NASA Artemis mission to the Moon.

The working rover is designed to collect and transport lunar regolith (Moon soil) to a NASA-run facility on the Moon, where oxygen will be extracted to prove technology essential for a sustainable human presence on the Moon, and production of rocket fuel to support a future mission to Mars. It showcases Australia’s expertise in mining and robotics in extreme environments.

The ELO2 rover prototype will traverse both a lunar and Martian-like surface in Adelaide through Lunar Outpost’s lunar mission-ready Stargate remote operations software, in an end-to-end remote operation demonstration. The display will highlight the collaboration and expertise of ELO2 Consortium partners from Australia’s universities and industry who designed, built and tested this working rover in just three months.

The ELO2 Consortium is one of two Australian consortia working on the design with funding from the Australian Space Agency’s Moon to Mars Trailblazer Program Stage 1 with an ambition to land a rover, to be named Roo-ver, on the Moon as part of a future NASA Artemis mission later this decade.

The ELO2 Consortium is a national mission co-led by EPE Oceania and Lunar Outpost Oceania. Consortium partners from across the nation have collaborated to build an Australian Made rover:

  • Lunar Outpost Oceania spearheaded the design and integration efforts out of its Melbourne office, with RMIT University’s Space Industry Hub and Advanced Manufacturing Precinct manufacturing the rover structure.
  • Queensland-based EPE and The University of Adelaide are responsible for ongoing testing and evaluation of the rover.
  • Inovor, based in Adelaide, provided the electrical power system
  • Element Robotics, a Melbourne startup, contributed to capability and autonomy systems.
  • The University of Melbourne’s Space Laboratory conducted thermal analysis, with systems engineering support from Northrop Grumman Australia.
  • BHP provided expertise in excavation, while The Australian National University Institute for Space (InSpace) supported the communications subsystems development.
  • VIPAC will conduct various flight qualification tests at facilities across Australia and Titomic, also based in Melbourne, will provide speciality flight part manufacturing if the ELO2 design is selected for Stage 2.

ELO2 delivered an initial rover prototype in December 2023. Just three months later the consortium is unveiling a new, more capable working prototype, showcasing its ability to iteratively design, build, and test at an unmatched pace that provides the most effective means for de-risking what will be Australia’s flagship space mission.

As part of the testing phases, the ELO2 rover will travel across Australia over the coming months to various test facilities and will be making appearances around its testing schedule to engage the public, offering insights into the advancements, challenges and discoveries on the path toward Australia’s lunar exploration milestone.

The first stop is Adelaide, where the rover will be tested over the rocky terrain of a simulated Martian crater and landscape with seven different geological zones at the unique Hamilton Space School in Mitchell Park, Adelaide. Secondary students from Hamilton Space School will see the one-of-a-kind working model of the lunar rover through the eyes of an astronaut as they are suited up to watch the rover drive over the Mars surface.

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