Tohoku University

Tohoku University Research News of Engineering (Tune) is a biannual publication of School of Engineering (SoE), Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan. Each Tune volume provides the scientific community with the latest research results of SoE on a selected topic.

Voice from Young Scientists

Our X-Prize Team, Paving a Road to the Future of Private Lunar Development

I have been working under Professor Yoshida at The Space Robotics Lab at Tohoku University, in partnership with the Google Lunar X-Prize Team, Hakuto, since 2010. It is becoming increasingly exciting as we continue to approach our goal of launching our robots to the Moon in 2015. If our mission is successful, Tohoku University and our partners will be part of the first privately funded mission to land operable machinery on the surface of the Moon. Proving that this scale of mission is possible is important for the next stage of space infrastructure development which requires cheaper, more affordable missions which utilize lunar resources.

Our mission in particular is to explore the interior of a lunar "skylight", or collapsed lunar lava tube. Skylights are the best known candidates for building lunar habitats and staging areas for large-scale lunar development. It is our hope that in the long term, construction and refining rocket fuel from lunar resources will allow us to reach out beyond the moon for only a fraction of the cost it takes to do so today.

I came here with a Computer Science background and have had the opportunity to apply my skills to lunar robotics while also learning new things along the way in mechanical design, power electronics, control engineering and terramechanics. Tohoku University has allowed me the opportunity to break into Robotics and Aerospace Engineering, which has been an invaluable experience in my life.