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Humanoid Robots on the Moon in 1,000 Days?

A curious NASA mission, known as Project M, could send a robot to the moon, soon.

Despite President Obama’s new budget proposal to scrap moon-landing plans NASA is pushing forward with a new lunar-based mission, dubbed Project M.

Credit: NASA/GM

According to the agency, “the proposition is simple: land an operational humanoid robot on the moon in 1,000 days.”

NASA made a big splash earlier this year when it unveiled a humanoid robot called Robonaut2 in partnership with GM. At the time, Rob Ambrose, chief of the Software, Robotics and Simulation Division at NASA, told Technology Review that the agency wanted to use the robot for a number of different missions, starting with visits the International Space Station. The proposed Project M, which oddly hasn’t been discussed much by NASA officials, seems to be part of this plan. The agency is also testing a prototype lunar lander to launch the robot at Armadillo Aerospace located near Dallas, TX. NasaWatch.com reports that the agency plans to land something on the moon in 2013.

According to NASA’s Project M white paper:

The humanoid will travel to the moon on a small lander fueled by green propellants, liquid methane and liquid oxygen. It will perform a precision, autonomous landing, avoiding any hazards or obstacles on the surface. Upon landing the robot will deploy and walk on the surface performing a multitude of tasks focused on demonstrating engineering tasks such as maintenance and construction; performing science of opportunity (i.e. using existing sensors on the robot or small science instruments); and simple student experiments.

Below is a video of the Project M lunar lander in action.

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