2023 Recap

Meet KEVIN, our 2022-2023 robot!

Blacksburg, VA | September 24, 2023

Astrobotics, the dedicated student organization at Virginia Tech, has demonstrated unwavering determination and resilience in the face of unprecedented challenges during their 2022-2023 design cycle. Despite a two-year pandemic-caused hiatus and the daunting task of building a lunar mining robot from scratch, the team exceeded expectations by achieving a remarkable 35th place in the nation at the NASA Lunar Robotic Mining Competition (RMC).

The NASA RMC is a highly competitive annual event that challenges students from universities across the country to design and build autonomous robots capable of mining lunar regolith, simulating the process of extracting resources on the Moon. The competition tests the technical skills, innovation, and problem-solving abilities of participating teams.

The pandemic-induced lapse from in-person learning posed significant obstacles for Astrobotics, as they were forced to adapt to remote education and work with limited access to on-campus resources. The team had not built a robot since 2019, and with the 2022-2023 season marked as a "rebuilding year," the team had to teach themselves everything from the ground up.

Despite these challenges, the Astrobotics team rallied together, leveraging their collective passion for space exploration and their strong work ethic. They meticulously designed and constructed a cutting-edge lunar mining robot, focusing on innovative features that would set them apart from the competition.

The dedication and hard work paid off when the team's robot, affectionately named "KEVIN," or Keen Extractor of Vital IN-situ resources, showcased its capabilities at the NASA RMC. The judges were impressed with the team's innovative approach, awarding them a commendable 35th place in the nation.

Astrobotics' achievements did not stop there. In a subsequent event, they continued to prove their mettle by securing an impressive 7th place, further establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the world of lunar robotics. This caused Dr. Kevin Shinpaugh, faculty advisor for Astrobotics, to praise the team's resilience and commitment.

The Astrobotics team's remarkable performance in the 2022-2023 design cycle not only demonstrates their ability to adapt to adversity but also underscores their commitment to advancing space exploration technology. As they look ahead to future competitions, their accomplishments serve as an inspiration to students and space enthusiasts alike, reminding us all that with determination and innovation, even the most daunting challenges can be overcome.