Ceres Robotics, which is developing a lunar power grid named “MoonPower”, has been selected by NASA to develop further one of the system’s key components, a deployable-retractable truss-mast to commission 50-kW-class solar arrays on the lunar surface.

MoonPower is a lunar power generation and distribution system to support continuous robotic and human operations on the Moon.

It is designed to deliver reliable and sustainable power to support lunar habitats, rovers, and construction systems for future robotic and crewed lunar missions.

It is comprised of a networked array of 50 kW-Class Vertical Solar Array System called C-Towers.

Ceres was awarded NASA SBIR Phase II contract to further the development of key components of the C-Tower.

“C-Tower is an affordable, lightweight, and scalable solution to meeting the power demands of future lunar missions,” said Udit Shah, Principal Investigator of this SBIR and technical programme lead at Ceres.

“It can generate 60 kW peak power and is scalable to generate more than 240 kW peak power. We plan to sequentially establish MoonPower for multiple customers using multiple C-Towers to meet the medium-term and long-term lunar polar power demands.”

A key component of the Ceres MoonPower Lunar Grid, and also a NASA SBIR Topic, is the 50 kW-class Solar Vertical Array Technology (VSAT).

The 50-kW VSAT is the second generation to the 10-kW VSAT contracts awarded in 2021 to multiple firms under NASA’s Game Changing Development project.

Ceres was awarded a Phase I SBIR 50-kW VSAT contract in 2023 as part of NASA’s Artemis program, with the focus on returning humans to the Moon and supporting the power demands of establishing a sustainable presence at the lunar South Pole.

As part of that activity, Ceres worked on structures and mechanisms innovations of the C-Tower to ensure compact packaging, safe transportation in space and on the lunar surface, reliable deployment, stable operation while sun tracking, and retraction and relocation as needed.

The backbone of C-Tower, which Ceres will continue to develop under the SBIR Phase II contract is a deployable-retractable lightweight truss-mast to commission solar arrays. The truss-mast extends to 23.5 m from the surface and is scalable to extend to more than 50 m.

As part of the SBIR Phase II contract, Ceres has partnered with Voyager Space Exploration Systems to prototype and test the C-Tower’s mast under lunar gravity environment (1/6 g).

Ceres is a commercial vendor selected by NASA to provide payload delivery services to the lunar surface through the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) programme.

In support of NASA CLPS, Ceres is developing its mission configurable B5 lander bus capable of precision landing and providing NASA with end-to-end lunar payload delivery and operations services.

Ceres B5 lander bus can deliver up to 500 kg payloads to the lunar surface and provides payloads with power, data, communications, articulation, and surface and orbital deployment to perform their individual missions.

“Ceres is ideally suited to support NASA’s mission to return astronauts to the surface of the Moon, and ultimately Mars,” said Michael Sims, founder and CEO.

“We look forward to leveraging our commercial capacity to not only design and develop our proprietary MoonPower lunar grid and the C-Tower system but to one day operate on the lunar surface with our robotic lander and rover systems, providing reliable power to ourselves and our commercial and government colleagues operating on the Moon alongside us.”
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