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Russian Firm to Roll Out Moon Rover

RIA Novosti

16:57 12/04/2012

MOSCOW, April 12 (RIA Novosti) - The prototype of the Russian moon rover competing for the Google Lunar X PRIZE will be finished by summer, developers said on Thursday.

The Selenokhod (“Moon Walker”) will then undergo extensive testing, including the vacuum camera, the vibration test bed and on a simulated moon surface complete with craters, Sergei Sedykh, the Selenokhod company head, told RIA Novosti.

Selenokhod is the only Russian entrant among 26 teams competing for the $20 million that Google and the X Prize foundation assigned in 2007 for the company to build the first successful private moon rover.

The winner has to create an unmanned probe that would successfully reach the moon, travel at least 500 meters across its surface and send high-definition video and photo from its trip back to Earth.

Russia has a history of building wheeled moon rovers, two of which operated on the moon in the early 1970s.

But the Selenokhod will move on skis, not wheels, a design initially developed for the Russian Prop-M rover, two of which were dispatched to Mars in 1971, but failed to deploy properly.

The developer plans to deliver its 5-kilogram Selenokhod to the moon via Russian probe Luna-Glob, expected to be launched in 2015, though the contest organizers have not said so far whether they think this delivery method is acceptable, Sedykh said.

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