BRP, in cooperation with the Centre de technologies avancees BRP-Universite de Sherbrooke (CTA), will develop the chassis and locomotion systems for a Lunar Exploration Light Rover and a Mars Exploration Science Rover.
BRP was awarded $5.6 million in contracts by MacDonald Dettwiler and Associated Ltd. (MDA) after they received the mandate of two contracts by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) for the design, development, construction and testing of advanced space vehicles under the CSA's Exploration Surface Mobility Program.
Terrestrial prototypes of the rovers will be constructed from advanced aluminum alloys with electric propulsion systems powered by battery and, in the case of the Mars rover, solar energy. They will also be capable of integrating hydrogen fuel cells. The rover prototypes will target improvements to the performance of existing Martian and lunar exploration vehicles by a factor of between 5 and 10, in terms of speed, range and size.
"Future vehicles will be tasked with accessing harsher, rougher and more remote regions of planetary surfaces than ever before," said Dr. Christian Sallaberger, vice-president and director for Space Exploration at MDA. "For Canada to play a role, we must demand the very best that our nation has to offer. BRP's world leadership in terrestrial off-road vehicles make them a natural partner for MDA on these projects. We are thrilled to welcome them to our growing team in Canada and we are truly excited by the rich synergy between Canadian space and terrestrial technology advancements."
"BRP is proud to participate in Canada's space program," said Jose Boisjoli, president and CEO. "While this type of R&D is outside our regular activities, we have the resources with the CTA to take advantage of this opportunity. Employees from BRP's triad of R&D facilities located in Canada and in Austria work together to explore the unexplored and challenge existing paradigms; this is part of our DNA. We look forward to pooling our knowledge with MDA and the CSA to help further Canada's role in space exploration. Such a project will no doubt also increase our knowledge and speed up our development of more eco-performing technologies that could, in time, be integrated into our existing products."
Three base vehicles will be developed and built at the CTA, a private-public partnership between BRP and Sherbrooke University, before delivery to MDA for integration with a range of smart sensors and payloads. "The CTA's team is used to thinking outside the box," said Mihai Rasidescu, president and general manager of the CTA. "We are developing systems that may eventually need to function in the most remote and hostile environments with extreme variations in temperature, reduced gravity, and of course, the inability of the locomotion system to be serviced once in use. That's definitely outside the box."