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The United Kingdom is set to make its own giant leap soon, with a very small rover.
A 2.2-lb. (1 kilogram), four-legged robot built by London-based Spacebit will launch aboard Astrobotic's Peregrine moon lander in July of 2021, representatives of both companies announced recently.
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It will be a flight of firsts — the first mission for both Peregrine and its rocket, United Launch Alliance's new Vulcan Centaur; the first trip to the moon's surface by a UK-built craft; and the first time a legged robot has explored another world.
"We could not be more excited to fly this mission with Astrobotic," Spacebit CEO Pavlo Tanasyuk said in a statement late last month. "This mission will result in the first payload from the UK to reach the moon surface and mark the beginning of a new era in commercial space exploration for Britain."
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The rover will move at least 33 feet (10 meters) on the lunar surface and beam high-definition video and other data home to its handlers during its 10-Earth-day mission, Spacebit representatives said.
Mission - Beginning - Plan - Spacebit - Fleet
And this mission will be just the beginning, if all goes according to plan. Eventually, Spacebit aims to launch a fleet of these little robots to explore the lunar subsurface and near subsurface — especially lava tubes that would be a good place for a human settlement, company officials have said.
Spacebit has other ambitions as well, as its website makes clear: "Our main goal is to democratize access to space by tokenizing all of our commercial space missions around the Earth, the moon and beyond. By decentralizing our missions, we...
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