Neptec Rover Team Hard at Work

Neptec Rover Team Hard at Work

Photo credit Michelle Nash Baker/Metroland

Brad Jones and Jason Muise of Neptec’s Rover Team recently attended the NCFRN Field Trials at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum with Neptec’s Juno Rover, read all about it here.

Harwell engineers prepare for moon launch

Harwell engineers prepare for moon launch

Mike Kearns, of Neptec UK with the Lunar Rover

A UK space company based at Harwell Campus will be designing and creating a prototype of a landing sensor for a historic unmanned lunar mission as part of a series of launches that could see the first human habitat on the moon.

Neptec UK won the contract to build the landing sensor ahead of a trip to the south polar region of the moon.

The sensor is being developed by a team of engineers at its offices and laboratory at Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire.

The contract, assigned by Airbus Defence and Space, is for the design of a “radar laser,” or LIDAR, which forms part of the autonomous landing navigation system called PILOT.

Scheduled to launch in 2021, the ‘Luna Resource-1 Lander’ mission is being undertaken by the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA).

Sue Horne, head of space exploration, UK Space Agency, said: “It is great to see such exciting projects coming out of the UK’s investment in exploration.”

Mike Kearns, managing director of Neptec UK, added: “We are extremely proud to be part of this exciting mission that will help establish the Moon as a launch site for human exploration into deeper space.

“The LIDAR technology that is being developed for this mission also has significant potential for terrestrial use.

“Vehicle autonomy is an exciting growth industry around the world and LIDAR technology plays a key role in its development.”

Kerry Sanz, programme manager of Neptec UK, said: “Ninety per cent of the LIDAR design and prototyping work on this phase of the project will be done by UK-based companies and everyone involved is very enthusiastic to be part of this historic mission.”

 

Link to original article – Accessed 02/23/2017

Kanata tech company part of contract to create ‘space-age Swiss Army knife’ for moon, Mars missions

Kanata tech company part of contract to create ‘space-age Swiss Army knife’ for moon, Mars missions

By Bryson Masse, Ottawa Citizen | April 9, 2016

Kanata company Neptec Design Group will be working with a North Ontario mining technology firm to create equipment that could be used for deep-space prospecting missions to the moon, Mars or even an asteroid.

The Canadian Space Agency has awarded a $700,000 contract to Sudbury-based Deltion Innovations to develop PROMPT (or Percussive and Rotary Multi-Purpose Tool), a piece of equipment described by Deltion as a “space-age Swiss Army knife” that would serve multiple functions on a mission.

The robotic device, which would be compacted into a small, lightweight unit and installed on the end of a CSA robotic arm, will have the ability to drill about 10 cm into extraterrestrial crust and capture samples, screw bolts and make repairs autonomously.

“The tool is focused on early stage space mining and early stage space construction,” said Dale Boucher, CEO of Deltion. “(PROMPT will) help to understand surface structure and composition.”

The device will be used on the end of a robotic arm similar to those found on the International Space Station and the Mars rover. It weighs five kilograms and uses about 50 watts of power — less than a typical incandescent light bulb. Boucher wanted to differentiate PROMPT from typical tools in scientific missions as it’s a practical piece of mining equipment.

“Our roots are in the mining industry. We’ve taken the mining capabilities and understanding, and we’ve evolved it to a space environment,” said Boucher.

This photo shows the Neptec drill on the rover during the 2012 simulated mission. The rover was also carrying analysis equipment belonging to NASA. JOE BIBBY / SUPPLIED

This photo shows the Neptec drill on the rover during the 2012 simulated mission. The rover was also carrying analysis equipment belonging to NASA. JOE BIBBY / SUPPLIED

PROMPT will also be able to construct new pieces of equipment such as solar panel stands or prospecting equipment. Boucher compared it being able to build furniture or a new toy.

He said he hopes these developments will help kick the Canadian space mining industry into gear.

“Let’s make a stance and let’s go. Let’s get space mining going.”

Brad Jones, director of space systems for Kanata-based Neptec, said the rigours and conditions in deep space create the need for a new kind of technology. Neptec will be one of two companies subcontracting for Deltion, in addition to Atlas Copco from North Bay.

“(One challenge) is simply that all of this work has to be done without human supervision,” said Jones. “Do we do that by remote control? Do we do it semi-autonomously? Do we do that completely autonomously? There are varying grades of human involvement.”

Neptec will be creating software that will control the functions of the new equipment. Jones said there will be a need for technologies such as PROMPT because transporting items you might need in space off the planet is expensive. A better plan might be to manufacture items using resources found at your destination.

“PROMPT is a very early step towards having technology that will allow that kind of in situ resources utilization,” said Jones.

Since December, the Canadian Space Agency has been on the lookout for companies that can fulfill a contract that included a need for “Deep-Space Exploration Robotics.”

The goal of the contract would be to “develop a concept of a potential Canadian contribution to future exploration missions,” said Gilles Leclerc, director of space exploration at the CSA.

Link to original story (accessed on 11 April 2016)

Neptec to work with Deltion on new CSA Project

Neptec to work with Deltion on new CSA Project

Neptec congratulates Deltion Innovations, Ltd. on being awarded a contract for PROMPT by the Canadian Space Agency. Neptec is pleased to be their partner in developing this unique tool for space mining.

For more information and to read the Deltion Press Release, please click here.