Embry-Riddle partners with private and public entities to assist in developing solutions to today's and tomorrow's aeronautical and aerospace problems. Here at the world's largest aviation-oriented university, our focus on applied research is unique.

Free-Flying Unmanned Robotic Spacecraft for Asteroid Resource Prospecting and Characterization Phase II

PI Hever Moncayo

​In this project, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) and Honeybee Robotics (HBR) are developing an integrated autonomous free-flyer robotic spacecraft system to support the exploration and subsequent resource utilization of asteroids as well as other planetary bodies and moons. The proposed spacecraft will address the first step towards In Situ Resource Utilization from Near Earth Object bodies; namely it will prospect it with sample acquisition devices and characterize the NEO for ISRU potential. 

​Embry-Riddle and Honeybee Robotics are focused on an innovative resource prospecting mission concept based on autonomous small marsupial free-flyer prospector spacecrafts. Such technologies are currently being developed at ERAU. The spacecraft will utilize unique technologies such as MicroDrills and Pneumatic Samplers previously developed under other SBIR projects by Honeybee Robotics. In particular, the proposal will focus on flight control and reconfiguration for guidance under extreme environments, vision-aided navigation approaches, and sampling systems design, testing and evaluation. The successful completion of the proposed research is anticipated to provide a theoretical and experimental framework to investigate the capabilities of a marsupial-based robotic system to explore and extract samples from terrains that would be inaccessible to traditional rover-type vehicles and where traditional flight guidance and navigation sensors, such as GPS receivers and magnetometers, are not functional. 

Research Dates

07/01/2015 to 06/30/2017


  • Hever Moncayo
    Aerospace Engineering Department
    Ph.D., West Virginia University
  • Richard Prazenica
    Aerospace Engineering Department
    Ph.D., M.S., University of Florida
    B.S., University of Pennsylvania

Tags: aerospace engineering unmanned and autonomous systems

Categories: Faculty-Staff