Lunar Manipulator
Lunar Manipulator

What will it take to live and work on the moon's surface? That's the question a NASA team demonstrated during an early June week on the lunar-like landscape near Moses Lake, Wash.

NASA scientists took some of their most promising lunar equipment concepts - robots, rovers and more - to perform a multitude of field tests, activities they believe will be needed to live and work on the moon.

One test series studied how astronauts would handle and manipulate equipment on a planetary outpost. Astronauts will need a helping hand during early lunar outpost construction and as they expand their base of operations.

During the test, the Lunar Surface Manipulator System (LSMS) - essentially a robotic manipulator - proved it can lift and precisely position equipment. The principles behind the device also apply for operations on the Martian surface.

The device looks like a lightweight crane but, it is more capable than a simple crane. The LSMS is strengthened by cables that resist pulling forces and tube members that resist pushing forces: making it strong in a smart way.

"The manipulator did everything we wanted it to, from lifting large simulated airlocks and habitats to more delicate tasks such as precisely positioning scientific payloads," said John Dorsey, senior aerospace engineer and task lead for LSMS development and testing.

"The LSMS team is excited - this is why we came to NASA, to invent and create new technology. And we're fortunate that our project will continue into next year, so we'll be able to improve upon it and add new capabilities," he added.

LSMS is being developed by NASA's Exploration Technology Development Program Office at NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.

Credit: NASA/Sean Smith

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Page Last Updated: August 21st, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator