A UK space company based at Harwell Campus will be designing and creating a prototype of a landing sensor for a historic unmanned lunar mission as part of a series of launches that could see the first human habitat on the moon.
Neptec UK won the contract to build the landing sensor ahead of a trip to the south polar region of the moon.
The sensor is being developed by a team of engineers at its offices and laboratory at Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire.
The contract, assigned by Airbus Defence and Space, is for the design of a “radar laser,” or LIDAR, which forms part of the autonomous landing navigation system called PILOT.
Scheduled to launch in 2021, the ‘Luna Resource-1 Lander’ mission is being undertaken by the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), in co-operation with the European Space Agency (ESA).
Sue Horne, head of space exploration at the UK Space Agency, said: “It is great to see such exciting projects coming out of the UK’s investment in exploration.”
Mike Kearns, managing director of Neptec UK, said: “We are extremely proud to be part of this exciting mission that will help establish the Moon as a launch site for human exploration into deeper space.
“The LIDAR technology that is being developed for this mission also has significant potential for terrestrial use.
“Vehicle autonomy is an exciting growth industry around the world and LIDAR technology plays a key role in its development.”
Kerry Sanz, programme manager of Neptec UK, said: “Ninety per cent of the LIDAR design and prototyping work on this phase of the project will be done by UK-based companies and everyone involved is very enthusiastic to be part of this historic mission.”