Yes, the 60s and 70s were a magic time for space achievement, Nancy. I think that will come around again, perhaps prompted by China's entry into space exploration. Those magic days of the 60s and 70s were prompted by Soviet exploration. We just need new prompting.
The space program of the 60s and 70s was a magical time where it seems we were unlimited in our potential for space travel. It is a shame that we have not been able to duplicate that enthusiasm in these recent decades. On another note - I could really relate to the additional requirement that was added after the original design was contracted, with no additional budget to implement it. How many times has that happened to any engineer that has been in industry awhile?! Looks like they did a great job coming up with a solution.
In spite of its immediate deployment issue, I was very much intrigued by the design ingenuity of the Honeybee Robotics team in the use of composite materials to improve the mass to strength ratio and introduction of variable degrees of rotation in allowing this versatile machine to move. Hope we find another opportunity to use such concepts in future.
I was born after the moon missions also. I was so excited to hear that president Bush announce that we are going back then very disappointed when it was cancelled. I'm just hoping that Space X and other companies will be able to reduce the cost of the man missions so we can go back to the moon and beyond. I know it's a long shot but there is still hope.
I was born after the end of the Apollo program, but when I was a kid, I read every book I could about manned spaceflight (especially Apollo). It was a big inspiration to me, and probably a major influence on my decision to become an engineer. The U.S. retreat from manned spaceflight after the Challenger explosion, while it may have made sense from a safety perspective, was very disappointing to kids like me, who wanted to see the space program continue to push forward.
The most exciting missions in recent years were the Mars landers Spirit and Opportunity. Hopefully, these missions helped to get some kids excited not only about space exploration, but also robotics, sensors, etc.
My company, BRP, is working on developing prototype Moon and Mars rovers for the Canadian Space Agency. Since Canada does not have its own launch vehicles or facilities, I'm not quite sure what's being planned in terms of potential missions, but it's encouraging to see this kind of work. (If Design News is interested in doing a stort on this, I would be glad to get you in touch with the appropriate people).
I agree completely Dave. I'm just disappointed we won't get to see this type of equipment deployed on the moon. I know it's not practical, and I know we're broke, but I still have a soft spot for the idea of heading to the moon and beyond. My kids didn't get the see the excitement of the space program of the 60s and 70s. The shuttle program didn't quite carry the same level of human ambition.
Rob, even if the moon program is cancelled, I can think of all kinds of cool industrial applications for an end-of-arm tool changer of this type. So I don't think I would quite say that this technology has "nowhere to go."
I have designed a number of robot arms, some featured in Design News. It is relatively easy to design an arm, but much more challenging to include a path for the routing and preservation of cables. Good luck adding them after the fact. The moon also has some temperature extremes depending on wich side of the moon the crane is on.
Gravity is 1/6 that of earth so there will be some advantage there...
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