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...
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.
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).
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.
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.
I find it ironic that the initial impetus for the space program was in response to Sputnik and the Cold War, and now the revival of the space program may be a reality due to Chinese efforts now becoming a campaign issue...our scientific endeavors are politically motivated, but I guess that is what it takes to get government funding.
Yes, it is ironic, Nancy. I guess the cliche is true, necessity is the mother of invention. Right now it's not necessary for the U.S. to explore space. We may see it as necessary if another country gets intrested. Although some still believe Frank Zappa is the mother of invention.
He certainly was in the 60s Rob LOL I almost fell over in Barnes and Nobles yesterday. I was looking through books on marketing and stuck in between Guerilla Marketing in 30 Days and the Ultimate Guide to Facebook advertising was Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead...No kidding! Maybe we should try some of their techniques to create a market for a viable space program!
That's funny about the Dead, Nancy. But it makes sense. Before Jerry died, the Dead ran a very prosperous organization. For years, they were the highest grossing tour act. They knew how to build a community and sustain it for years.
Hmmmm...maybe I bought the wrong book. Think I'll hop on Amazon and take another look...it's all about community building nowadays regardless of your field! Maybe we can apply it here and convince a race horse trainer to name a promising colt, "Back to the Moon." Just think - "Back to the Moon" triple crown winner named official mascot for U.S. space program! As my son would say, I must be butter 'cause I'm on a roll LOL
That's a great line from your son, Nancy. And I like the idea of a horse named Back to the Moon.
As for the Dead, they had a huge following that moved with the band from city to city. And the band ran its finances like a business. There were roughly 250 employees. The Dead was also way ahead on the breakdown of the recording industry. They encouraged their fans to tape concerts and share the recordings. They figured it would deepen the fans relationship to the band and encourage live ticket sales.
That's really interesting, Rob - they really were visionary in their marketing approach. They could see long term and were willing to do so. It's all about relationship. No matter how much technology serves to dehumanize communication - we still crave relationship and always will. I bet their Likes would have been off the charts if Facebook was around back then. I am buying the book! Now all we need to do is transfer their ideas to the space program.
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.
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.
Lunar dust is pretty wicked stuff. It's abrasive, much like ground glass and very, very fine, so it easily finds its way through seals. Static electricity can also cause lunar dust to be attracted onto and into equipment. It's believed that some lunar equipment has been damaged in the past by lunar dust clinging to the equipment's reflective surfaces. Once covered in dust, the surface is no longer reflective and the equipment begins to overheat.
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