As part of a joint project with NASA, Astrobotic of the United States will send its CubeRover platform to the Moon, which will be used to test survival technologies in the harsh conditions of the moon's night, as well as to test long-range communication systems.
The moon's nights last up to 14 days, and the temperature drops below -130 °C. Low temperatures pose a serious threat to the power elements of the various lunar devices, and this is a serious problem for NASA, which under the Artemis program is going to significantly increase its presence on the Moon before the end of the decade, and this requires the smooth operation of the heating systems to be tested by CubeRover.
Another task of the machine will be to test communication with satellite repeaters; most modern levelers use their landing modules as repeaters, but such systems require two machines to be visible, thus limiting the maximum distance to which the rover can be removed.
Astrobotic won a contract with NASA as part of a specialized Small Business Innovation Research programme, which involves small businesses, private entrepreneurs and research groups participating in space projects. The company chose not to disclose the contract. In addition to the lunar, Astrobotic developed two landing modules: Peregrine and Griffin, the last one to bring to the moon in 2024 the NASA-developed VIPER moonship. The mission was originally scheduled to start a year earlier, but further testing was required.