LUNABOTICS is an Artemis Student Challenge designed to educate college students in the NASA
Systems Engineering process. Participating teams will use this process to design and construct a
prototype robot that demonstrates the technologies required for a sustainable human presence on the
Moon and other off-world locations. Competition rules evolve each year to account for NASA mission
objectives and advances in commercially available technology. The competition allows NASA to gather
and evaluate design and operational data for future robotic excavators and builders.
Some of the deliverables of this challenge include a Project Management Plan, Public Outreach
Report, Presentation and Demonstration, a Systems Engineering Paper and more. The complexities
the robots will have to master are the abrasive characteristics of the regolith simulants, the resources
required to excavate and construct, the weight and size limitations of the Lunar robot and the ability
to operate by remote control (tele-operate) or through autonomous operations. The commercial cost
of delivering payloads to the Moon is about $1.2 Million per kg which corresponds to an approximate
mission cost of $72 Million. This competition aims to simulate a Lunar mission where a robot is
delivered to the Moon.
NASA directly benefits from the LUNABOTICS competition by annually assessing student designs and
data the same way it does for its own, less frequent, prototypes. Encouraging innovation in student
designs increases the potential of identifying clever solutions to the many challenges inherent in future
Artemis missions. Advances for off-world mining and construction offer new possibilities for the same
activities here on Earth, expanding the benefits beyond NASA alone. The skills developed participating
in LUNABOTICS apply to other high technology industries that rely on Systems Engineering principles,
helping to create a workforce posed to lead a new space-based economy and add to the economic
strength of our country.