Australian-built rover set to go to the moon in 2026 in joint mission with NASA

Australia has struck a deal with NASA to develop a small rover that has the ability to pick up moon rock and dust and return it to a lunar lander operated by NASA.

The lunar soil, or regolith, is expected to contain oxygen in the form of oxide and — using separate equipment — NASA will aim to extract oxygen from the samples. “This is an important step towards a sustainable human presence on the moon and supports future missions to Mars,” the Australian government said in a statement.

The agreement, which includes an Australian dollar 50 million contribution ($37 million), is part of Australia’s Moon to Mars initiative.

“This is lunar history for Australia. We are going to see Australian companies, researchers, design and build a rover that will go to the moon and do interesting science,” Enrico Palermo, head of the Australian Space Agency, told the Australian breakfast show “Today.”

Palermo said Australia “is at the forefront of robotic technology and remote operations systems, which will be central to establishing a sustainable presence on the moon and ultimately supporting human exploration of Mars.”

NASA administrator Bill Nelson said the deal with Australia broadens the coalition of countries supporting humanity’s return to the moon under the Artemis program.

NASA designs new spacesuits for next moon mission in 2024
“By working with the Australian Space Agency and our partners around the world, NASA will make more discoveries and more research through the Artemis program,” Nelson said in a statement.
Artemis’ goal is to land the first woman and the next man on the moon by 2024 — though that deadline may not be achievable due to problems with spacesuits, an August report from the NASA watchdog warned.

Artemis relies on partnerships, both international and commercial, to create a sustainable and lasting presence of humans on and around the moon, with the goal of ultimately using the lessons learned from Artemis to land the first humans on Mars.

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