Student built lunar rover for Google Lunar X PRIZE. Get 3D printed or CNC’d models, test-drive the rover or send your DNA to the moon! Read more
This project's funding goal was not reached on July 26, 2012.
About this project
The Brief Synopsis
- We're competing in an international contest to land a lunar rover on the moon. It's called the Google Lunar X PRIZE.
- We need to purchase a CNC milling machine in order to complete construction of our flight-like lunar rover prototype.
- We need your help to do it... and we have some pretty awesome rewards for you.
Background & Vision
Earthrise Space, Inc. is a non-profit research laboratory and student training ground located in Orlando, Florida near the University of Central Florida. The company provides students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience designing, building, testing and operating real spacecraft, the ultimate STEM experience! The skills and knowledge gained from this provides students with a significant advantage as they enter the workforce and seek high-tech jobs in aerospace or related industries.
ESI allows students to take on the responsibility of designing and building complex spacecraft systems. The company forces them to work together with other students, company management and senior engineering advisers and experts in a fast paced, multi-disciplinary environment. Students must satisfy challenging engineering constraints and manage customer requirements. They are encouraged to innovate and explore, and to learn from and overcome mistakes that are made along the way. These efforts provide the students with critical real-world experience unavailable to them from the classroom or through internships with large corporations.
Earthrise Space Inc. is the Florida team pursuing the Google Lunar X PRIZE (GLXP), through its Omega Envoy Project. Of the 26 teams in the competition, ESI is one of only six teams which have been selected for a NASA Innovative Lunar Demonstrations Data contract worth up to $10M. The company is aggressively moving forward with development of its lunar spacecraft to pursue the GLXP and deliver valuable data to NASA in the process.
With the GLXP, a total of $30 million in prize money is available to the first privately funded teams to safely land a robot on the surface of the Moon, have that robot travel 500 meters over the surface, and send HD video, images and data back to Earth. Bonus prizes are available for surviving the lunar night, visiting lunar heritage sites (including those of the Apollo landings), traveling more than 5 km and detecting water. More details about the competition are available here.
Why we need your help!
As a non-profit company, we rely on contributions to move the project forward. We have already secured many key partners and sponsors including the University of Central Florida, Space Florida, Imaging Source, National Instruments, and many others (visit our Partner and Sponsor pages on our website for a full list).
We consider one of our most important sponsors to be Stratasys, a company that produces 3D printers and production systems. They have provided us with a Dimension 1200es 3D printer which we are using to prototype spacecraft components before cutting actual metal.
Our Dimension 1200es 3D Printer, Courtesy of Stratasys
For our project to move forward, we need to take our designs to the next step. We need your help to obtain a 4-axis CNC milling machine. We’ll be able to use the machine to take our rover (and also our lander) designs from CAD drawings to real spacecraft parts. Design, analysis, 3D printing, CNC machining… it’s all done by our students!
Our team of students, advisers and management at Earthrise Space Inc.
We should also mention that while we have been awarded a contract by NASA worth up to $10M, the contract is awarded incrementally. We can’t keep going after and delivering more segments of the contract without a CNC machine… and your help!
Besides that warm fuzzy feeling you’ll have inside from supporting students in this incredible project, there are also a number of other interesting, fun and cool rewards available to you.
For the most part, the rewards are self-exclamatory. We’ve included a few pictures below.
Lunar Stress Ball... Marvin not included! ($8 or more)
Omega Envoy T-Shirt ($25 or more)
12" Diameter Lunar Globe ($115 or more)
For as little as $150, you can get a 3D printed model of our lunar rover (in 1/8 scale). $300 will get you a larger 3D printed version with wheels that roll and solar arrays that articulate. For $500 you can get one at the largest size we can print with the Dimension 1200es… 9/32 scale (approximately 10” across)!
1/8 Scale 3D Printed Lunar Rover Model ($150 or more)
3/16 Scale 3D Printed Articulating Lunar Rover Model ($300 or more)
Making good use of our new CNC milling machine, we also are offering models of the rover machined out of solid aluminum blocks. 1/8 scale and an incredible ¼ scale are available!
For our biggest supporters, we’re providing even more amazing rewards. $3,000 will get you an opportunity to visit our facility for a behind-the-scenes tour. You’ll meet our students and see our spacecraft hardware up close.
Drive a Real Lunar Rover
$5,000 will get you the tour, plus a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to drive the REAL lunar rover! We’ve been building a huge, tilting lunar sandbox similar to those used by NASA JPL to put Mars rovers through their paces. It will be filled with lunar soil simulant provided by NASA’s Granular Mechanics and Surface Systems Laboratory. You’ll get to suit up and drive the actual rover we will send to the moon!
Send your DNA to the moon!
Our biggest contributors will get to secure their place in history by sending their DNA to the lunar surface, to be preserved for all time! We’ll collect the DNA, package it on the spacecraft, and fly it to the moon during our mission to win the Google Lunar X PRIZE. It’s a little like a lunar burial… but not as depressing. Imagine looking up at the moon, and knowing a little piece of you is up there… and it will still be up there after the human race is long gone!
Fly your DNA to the moon! ($10,000 or more)
You also will get to place your name or a small logo of your choosing onto the lunar spacecraft. Of course you will get to visit our facility, try your hand at operating our lunar rover, and receive two 1/4 scale models of the lunar rover to commemorate your participation in our mission.
We’re working out the precise procedures for DNA collection and storage but should have the details finalized in time to collect all the samples and launch them to the moon with our mission, currently scheduled for December 2014.
Contributions small or large… it’s all appreciated!
There are a number of intermediate rewards as well which we haven’t pointed out here. At whatever level you contribute, know that you are helping students build real spacecraft, and you’re going to be getting some pretty amazing rewards as well! The students appreciate your support!
For more information about our team and our project, please see our website www.earthrisespace.org
* Note: Shipping of rewards to international locations will be at extra cost.
It depends upon how much you want to send. We are currently selling payload space on the lunar lander for $1.6M / kg, and on the rover for $1.8M / kg. The smallest increment we are offering for these is 1/2 kg.
But most people would only be interested (and able to afford) to send a few grams of their loved one's ashes to the moon... so we're offering the following:
5g of ashes flown for $20,000
You have two options:
1) We fly the ashes on the Lunar Descent Vehicle. This will soft-land on the lunar surface.
2) We fly the ashes on our Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) stage. This spacecraft will crash into the lunar surface, thus scattering the ashes.
If you are interested in either of these options, please pledge $20,000 or more.
Of course you will also receive your name or a small logo of your choosing on the spacecraft, a visit to our facility, the opportunity to try your hand at operating our lunar rover, and two 1/4 scale models of the lunar rover.
DNA samples will be packaged into a storage module bolted to the Lunar Descent Vehicle. This module will protect the samples from UV irradiation, which would be the primary environmental mechanism that would destroy DNA. Cosmic rays and solar particle events will damage the DNA over time, but this process will occur very slowly. ESI predicts that DNA samples should remain viable on the lunar surface for at least 1,000 years and possibly quite a bit longer.
“Numerous studies have demonstrated that DNA can persist for millions of years if present in protected niches on Earth. Thus, we should expect that DNA on the Moon, if protected from UV irradiation and harsh vacuum, would be expected to persist for at least several millennia.” - Dr. Andrew Schuerger, University of Florida, KSC Space Life Sciences Lab
Yes. For the $4 pledge level, we will post a URL instead of a picture, if you so desire. ESI reserves the right to accept or reject any URL you send (for example, we will not accept links to inappropriate, obscene or other questionable websites).
There are a number of reasons why it makes more sense for us to purchase our own CNC milling machine instead of sending our designs out to be machined by others.
First, we intend to do a lot of machining, and our spacecraft parts can be pretty complicated! This is an active design project which will involve a lot of prototyping and redesign as we move forward. Our student team is learning as they go, so it’s likely we’ll go through many revisions of parts as the design matures. We’ll also need several rovers and landers to be built for testing purposes before we build the actual flight hardware.
Second, ESI is about more than just pursuing the X PRIZE. We intend to eventually turn this into a commercial lunar delivery service where we are sending spacecraft to the moon every few years. We have also received inquiries from several companies interested in purchasing copies of our lander for delivering their own payloads to the moon. We are pursuing several additional STEM projects, including spacecraft hardware as well as terrestrial projects. Having in-house machining capability will enable these projects by allowing rapid prototyping and production while keeping our costs low. When the machine is not being used to support our projects, we can generate additional revenue by providing manufacturing services to other companies in the Central Florida region.
Third, all spacecraft designs and hardware are controlled by export regulations from the US State Department, including ITAR and EAR regulations. That limits what machine shops we can work with. If we do the work in house, this is a lot less paperwork we have to deal with.
Fourth, a core objective of Earthrise Space, Inc. is to provide students with hands-on experience building spacecraft. By having our own machine, the students will get hands-on experience operating it, and will get a better understanding of how to design parts that can actually be manufactured, and in an efficient manner.
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