Not to be left out of the space age dog race, Mexico is planning to launch eight robots out of the protective cocoon of Earth’s atmosphere, after which they will, if all goes well, touch down intact and functioning on the cratered surface of the moon some months later.
The launch is set to take place sometime in the second half of 2019.
If successful, the mission would make Mexico the first Latin American country to set foot on the moon, even if those feet will be made of synthetic materials.
Each robot, designed and built by the Space Instrument Laboratory of the Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), will be autonomous, intelligent, and only weigh about half a kilo each.
According to UNAM official Gustavo Medina Tanco, the interstellar gambit’s aim is to contribute to the exploration and understanding of Earth’s scarred, pasty satellite and construct, among other things, a single, gigantic solar panel.
Supporting the project, called (not without a robot’s literal-mindedness and lack of poetry) Autonomous Structure Assembly on the Moon’s Surface, are the stateside company Astrobotic Technology and the Mexican governmental’s special fund for science and technology (CONACYT).
Medina sees his team’s effort not only as worthy in-and-of-itself, but also in the context of Mexican self-determination.
“In short order, [the mission] will change Mexicans’ mentality and will start a revolution in knowledge,” enthused Medina. “The Mexican flag will be planted on the moon, which will reaffirm for our people that we are capable of contributing to world knowledge.
“[With the new robot technology] Mexico is buying a ticket for the moment when the world’s economies change forever.”