Graduate students working with Draper on a vehicle designed to land on a planet and then “hop” around to explore the surface won a NASA-sponsored contest intended to help the space agency find ideas that can assist its exploration mission.
The 2010 Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts – Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) contest sought students’ ideas that can directly assist NASA engineers with the development of systems for missions to the Moon and Mars. Past participation has led to professional interaction with NASA on design projects, according to the RASC-AL website.
Draper is developing a prototype lunar “hopper” vehicle with students and staff from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Draper is a member of the Next Giant Leap team competing for the Google Lunar X-Prize, which hopes to land a hopper on the Moon.
The MIT graduate students presented a proposed concept for using the hopper to explore Mars as a precursor to human missions.
“It is through projects like this that Draper fulfills an element of its mission to promote and support advanced technical education,” said Séamus Tuohy, Draper director of space systems. “This innovative project is preparing the next-generation of our nation’s space technical leaders.”