NASA is headed back to the moon in 2024, with the eventual goal of setting up a base there. Because their eggheads are busy working on a spacecraft that will get the astronauts there and back safely, they haven’t spent much time working on a crucial design feature of the landing craft(s): How to efficiently unload the base-building supplies they’ll carry. “This is why we are asking for your help!” the organization writes. “We are looking for practical and cost-effective solutions to unload payloads to the lunar surface.”
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“Payloads of varying mass and volume will be sent to the moon in one of several commercial landers and once they arrive at the lunar South Pole, they need to be unloaded. These landers will range in size depending on the program requirements, so ideally the solution should be flexible enough to handle a variety of payloads being off-loaded from a range of different vehicles.”
Examples of lander designs.
“Current Earth-based logistics systems are too massive to easily be packaged and deployed on the lunar surface.”
In other words, building a baggage carousel is out.
If you’re 18 or older and have some ideas for unloading systems, a broad overview of the competition is here, and the fun technical details of the challenge are here. The competition just opened yesterday, and the deadline is January 19th, 2021.