MDA bringing made-in-Ottawa expertise to lunar rover concept design

moon
Photo via NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / Flickr.

The Canadian Space Agency will look to some Kanata-based expertise in the design of a new lunar rover for the next generation of moon missions.

Space tech firm MDA announced Tuesday that it has been selected by the CSA to design a concept rover for human missions on the moon. The lunar rover, with autonomous and remote pilot capabilities, will need to withstand both extreme heat and cold and travel up to 600 km across the moon’s rocky surface over the course of its lifetime.

In designing the rover concept, MDA will lean on the former Neptec Design Group, the Kanata-based robotics and vision firm that it acquired earlier this year in a $42-million deal. A spokesperson for MDA confirmed to Techopia that the Neptec’s expertise will provide a “significant contribution” to the CSA conceptual lunar rover design.

Before it was acquired, Neptec had been tapped for similar projects with the CSA. The firm’s specialization in robot vision systems earned it a contract to develop three-dimensional camera systems for an extraterrestrial rover as well as building a new set of eyes for the International Space Station.

The concept rover is among a series of studies and technologies being tested by the CSA alongside its European and Japanese counterparts with the goal of landing humans on the moon in the next decade. A rover could potentially hit the lunar surface by mid-2020 in preparation for these missions.