Colorado School of Mines to Test Lunar Excavation Rover at CASP
Colorado School of Mines and Lunar Outpost are teaming up to build a lunar excavation rover, the Outpost Digger System (ODS). This rover will be capable of excavating nearly a ton of concrete-hard lunar regolith per Earth day. Today NASA announced Mines and Lunar Outpost have won an equal share of a $500,000 prize purse for their design as part of their submission to the NASA Break the Ice Challenge.
As one of 15 Phase 2 Level 1 winners, the Ice Diggers will now build a prototype of their excavation system for a 15-day durability demonstration test slated for September 2023. The demonstration test will take place at the Colorado Air and Space Port in Adams County, Colorado.
"The Ice Diggers combines Mines’ unparalleled capabilities in extractive technologies with Lunar Outpost’s state-of-the-art capabilities in lunar hardware design,” said Dr. George Sowers, team leader and professor in the Space Resources Program at Colorado School of Mines. “Our Outpost Digger system consists of two identical excavation vehicles that minimize mass and energy consumption while delivering the required 12 metric tons of regolith in 15 days.”
Aimed at the development of the water resources on the Moon, the NASA Break the Ice Challenge was designed to incentivize innovation around the excavation and delivery of icy regolith in extreme lunar conditions. Key to the challenge is maximizing the resources delivered while minimizing the energy used and the mass of equipment delivered to the Moon.
In 2021, Mines placed second in Phase 1 of the competition, winning $75,000 to continue the development of their idea. Since then, the Mines team partnered with Lunar Outpost to further the design.