After spending a year and a half researching and designing the lander, NASA’s Katherine’s landing team finally landed the first robot on the moon in 2024.
The lander is designed to be a small vehicle, capable of landing in a relatively small area, similar to a small plane, but smaller than a small spacecraft.
“There’s just a lot of engineering that went into that, and it was very much a work in progress,” said John Bresnik, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, in a statement.
Bresnik said the rover’s robotic arm, which is capable of reaching the surface of the moon and carrying tools and payloads, was tested out by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, during a three-month mission in December 2016.
NASA’s team of scientists also tested the landers arm on a mock landing site on the lunar surface, and they used it to perform the first-ever “bump test” in which the rover lifted off, then slid backward a little to ensure the rover was safely placed.
Scientists say they have not yet confirmed the landing, but it’s a significant milestone for the rover, which will make its first trip to the surface in 2020.
More than a year ago, the rover successfully returned to Earth to the Moon’s south pole, which the team believes could be an ideal place to begin a robotic mission.
In 2018, NASA selected the landERV, which consists of four large, heavy robots, to launch from a launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida, and fly to the moon.
A team of 15 scientists and engineers from the Jet Propulsing Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena and the University of Texas in Austin, along with the roboticists at the University.
worked on the land mission, which was awarded the 2018 Planetary Science Research Award from the Planetary Science Institute (PSI).
The rover’s name is a nod to Katherine, a character from the James Bond movie “Casino Royale,” which was written by James Cameron and released in 1999.