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08.14.2019

Maxar Extends its Robotic Leadership to the Moon

By: Maxar Technologies


Read Time: 3 minutes

As a world leader in building infrastructure for space, Maxar has evolved the technologies for robotic operations for more than three decades. Maxar-built robotic arms are used on a routine basis for things like servicing the International Space Station, including capturing and docking autonomous spacecraft, moving astronauts during spacewalks and exploring Mars. We have participated in hundreds of successful robotic missions, including those on the Space Shuttles, the International Space Station and five Mars rovers and landers.

Now, we are combining our decades of deep mission understanding to deploy a robotic arm to the Moon and to deliver an innovative camera mechanism that will enable the exploration of Saturn’s moon, Titan.

SAMPLR Robotic Arm
Maxar’s Sample Acquisition, Morphology Filtering, and Probing of Lunar Regolith (SAMPLR) robotic arm was chosen to be the first robotic arm on the surface of Earth’s moon since the Surveyor missions more than 50 years ago. Maxar will provide one of 12 payloads that NASA selected as part of the Artemis program to send the first woman and the next man to the Moon by 2024 in preparation for a human mission to Mars. SAMPLR will be mounted on a yet-to-be-named lander and will be used to acquire samples of lunar regolith. The arm is a flight spare from the Mars Exploration Rover mission, which included the long-lived rovers Spirit and Opportunity.


“Of the 12 new science experiments going to the Moon, ours was the only robotic arm chosen,” said Lucy Condakchian, Maxar’s General Manager of Robotics. “That’s a testament to Maxar and to our robotics team, in particular. Not to mention just how exciting the project is!”

View NASA’s announcement about Maxar’s SAMPLR robotic arm award, along with the other New Lunar Science Technology Investigation payloads at this link.

Eyes for Dragonfly: Exploring Saturn’s Moon


Separately, NASA selected Maxar to deliver cameras for NASA’s New Frontiers mission to explore Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. Called Dragonfly (a name that Maxar’s in-space robotic assembly system shares), the New Frontiers mission will search for signs of life using a flying drone, which will rely on Maxar-built cameras to navigate the alien landscape. This mission will take Maxar-designed hardware 840 million miles from Earth. After landing, the drone will fly more than 100 miles from the landing site during the 2.7-year mission -- farther than the surface distance traveled by all previous Mars rovers combined.

“Revealing Titan’s mysteries could represent a giant leap for science,” said Condakchian. “It’s an exciting opportunity for Maxar, and we were able to get in at the start of the New Frontiers mission based on our strong leadership in space exploration and passion for exploring worlds beyond our own.”

Check out NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine’s announcement about the New Frontiers mission here.

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