A winner after all. Sorato will proudly display in the National Air and Space Museum in 2024. (Chris Klimek)
Seeking to encourage future generations to explore space, Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering alumnus Takeshi Hakamada has donated a lunar rover to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.
Hakamada, MSAE '06 and founder and CEO of Japan's ispace – a lunar exploration company - donated “Sorato," a rover-type vehicle that his company entered in the 2018 Google Lunar X Prize competition
That competition ended when the five finalist teams failed to meet the deadline for landing the first private spacecraft on the moon. Instead of scrapping Sorato, Hakamada's team decided to preserve their decade-long project.
“The X Prize still brought value to the space world even though no company landed on the lunar surface, because it brought private space industry to new heights,” Hakamada said to Space.com.
The backpack-sized rover weighs less than nine pounds and is designed to run on minimal power. It has four wheels and four cameras that record a 360-degree view of its surroundings.
Sorato can travel up to 2,000 feet from its base while transmitting video at 50 kilobits per second to the base’s more capable antenna, which then relays information to Earth.
The Smithsonian gladly accepted the moon rover donation in fall 2019, but, due to building renovations, will not display it in the museum's Future of Spaceflight gallery until 2024.
“It’s great that around the world people think of the Air and Space Museum as a place that can inspire future technologies and activity in space. We’re the national museum, but in a way we’re also a museum for the entire world,” said Matt Shindell, Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum curator.
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Air and Space Mag