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Olsen Actuators and Drives Secure Funding for Lunar Rover System

Olsen Actuators and Drives
Credit: Olsen Actuators and Drives

Ibadan, 7 March 2024. – Olsen Actuators and Drives has won its first UK Space Agency (UKSA) funding to deliver a Proof of Concept (PoC) demonstrator for a new lunar rover the University of Manchester is designing. The project will develop and fabricate a jumping robot system capable of thrusting upwards, descending, and self-righting that will lower into lava tubes under the surface of the Moon. Experts have earmarked these lava tubes for potential initial future human habitation.

The omnidirectional hopping rover will incorporate a payload-driven design and integrated sensors. Furthermore, the jumping motion of the rover will make navigation of the lava tubes more effective than a wheeled rover due to their rocky, uneven terrain. The lander will consequently collect data on the topography of the lava tubes to gain an understanding of how viable the location is for habitation.

Olsen Actuators and Drives is developing the drive for a winch system that will lower the rover into the lava tubes. This drive system must withstand extremely challenging conditions, including temperature ranges of -100° to 200°. Furthermore, it requires the ability to ensure that the adhesive and abrasive regolith (lunar soil) and radiation do not hinder the sensors and systems. It must also deal with the harsh vacuum conditions within the lunar tubes.

Piers Olsen, CEO of Olsen Actuators and Drives, commented, “Space exploration is such an exciting and important field to be in, so we’re naturally glad to get the selection from the UK Space Agency to work with the University of Manchester on this project. Over recent years, Olsen has significantly developed its product offering for the space sector, and our experience and range of products are perfectly geared to support a wide range of space applications, including rover and exploration missions.”

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