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Interview and tour with GLXP team Omega Envoy - SpacePod 2011.05.30

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Jason: Jason Rhian for Spacevidcast. I'm in Orlando, Florida today to check out the student-led team of the Google Lunar X-Prize, Omega Envoy under the umbrella corporation Earthrise Space Inc. We're going to take a behind-the-scenes tour of their rover that's on the horizon to go to the moon one day. [rings bell] Ruben Nunez: Hey Jason! Jason: Hey Ruben, how's it going? Ruben: Good, how are you? Jason: I'm doing well. This is Ruben Nunez, he's the director of Omega Envoy. So you're going to show us some cool stuff today? Ruben: Oh yeah, definitely. Come on in! Jason: Let's get started. Ruben: Lets go. This is actual hardware that will be going on our fourth rover prototype and some of it will be going on our actual flight-ready rover for the mission. Jason: Now, can you give us an idea of some of the basics of what we're looking at right now? Ruben: Alright, so I'll start from over here. This is a motor with a planetary gearhead meant for Earth-based applications here for our fourth rover prototype. The one that we will be using for the actual mission will be much smaller and the issue with that is because here we're dealing with 9.81 meters per second squared obviously and on the moon it is 1/6 of that. So we won't be needing as much torque on the surface of the moon. Jason: Now I have a personal question: Is it also weight related? Because I know weight is everything. You've got to make sure things are as light as possible - does that play into it some as well? Ruben: Exactly. Well, most of the components that are being integrated into the fourth prototype will hopefully be under a total of 12 kilograms. But for the actual flight-ready one it should be definitely under 12 kilograms. Of course, this is one of our whiteboards, one of many whiteboards here. And to tell you a quick story of what happened with this, I had my last final before I graduated from UCF, it was a propulsion exam and I drank a couple of energy drinks in the middle of the night studying. And I couldn't sleep because I was worrying about the exam and also thinking about the project. And I just had so many ideas in my head that I just came here at 5AM because I couldn't sleep. Jason: You came here at 5AM in the morning? Ruben: I came here at five in the morning because I had all these ideas in my head and I had to just dump them somewhere. And I like to dump it in a big area, somewhere I can see, with colors - coded that way. So I pretty much wrote everything on this board in an hour. Okay, so ... and it pretty much just says what Earthrise Space Incorporated's intentions are besides Omega Envoy because that's our main project right now. Jason: So what you're basically telling me is that this for all intents and purposes is your business plan? Ruben: This is pretty much our business plan on a whiteboard, yes. Ah, this is a motor controller for the motors. Jason: For one of these motors here? Ruben: Yes, exactly, for one of these motors. And then right here next to it are the space-qualified solar cells that were provided to us. And at the moment I cannot mention the sponsor, but eventually ... Jason: For now... Yeah, for now, that's cool. Ruben: But eventually we'll go over the solar cells again and the way they're going to be assembled. Jason: I do have one question: Do you know how many of those individual ones are going to be on the rover by any chance? Ruben: At the moment, we have a rough estimate. There are going to be about 140 of them. Jason: There's roughly going to be 140 of those on there? Ruben: Well, I would highlight what the overall idea of Earthrise Space Incorporated is. And mainly, first off and foremost is STEM education because there are so many students out there that don't find science, technology, mathematics, or engineering interesting anymore. So ... because they don't get to work on these things hands-on! So this is what we're bringing to students. We have this facility. We have a machine shop being set up right now. We have all this equipment that we need to work on, and it's actually going to go on a space mission! And with this space mission .... Jason: So let me ask you this. Do you think the students will find it boring knowing they're in college right now and something that they're working on with their own hands could one day be rolling around the Sea of Tranquility, around Neil Armstrong's bootprints. Something they built could photograph a piece of space history. That's basically what you're saying. Ruben: Yeah, pretty much. That's what I'm saying and it's really exciting! I mean it's really exciting for me. First when the competition started I really told myself, "Wow, I could actually send something to the moon and there's actually a competition on this. And I can win $20 million dollars!" Jason: Yeah, that doesn't hurt does it? Ruben: No, it doesn't hurt! Jason: Well, I'm looking at what is a mill and they've got one of their staff who is toiling away on it. What's your name sir? Joe: Joe Palaia Jason: And you're what? What are you doing right now? What's your role? Joe: Oh, they brought me in to degrease and get this milling machine up and running. Jason: So you're ... I guess you have a degree in what? Are you a mechanic? Joe: I have a master's degree in nuclear engineering from MIT. Jason: Really?

Video Details

Duration: 5 minutes and 43 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Views: 79
Posted by: spacevidcast on May 30, 2011

Spacevidcast's Jason Rhian had a chance to go behind the scenes with the Google Lunar X PRIZE team Omega Envoy to take a peek at their new facility and the progress of their lunar rover. Omega Envoy is one of nearly 30 teams competing to win part of the $30 million dollar pot for sending a rover to the moon and completing specific tasks.
For more information on Omega Envoy you can visit their Twitter account @OmegaEnvoy or their web site at For more information on the Google Lunar X PRIZE you can visit their Twitter account @GLXP or their web site at
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