Inflatable Rover Buckets
One of the limits on the first couple of missions
is the size and mass of the shuttle payload. A rover needs to
be able to move a lot of regolith, and one limitation on that is
the size of the bucket. But we only have a limited space to bring a
If the rover uses a brush system, or some other "scoop up and dump
into carrying bucket" system, then we could use an inflatable
structure to enlarge the size of the bucket.
For the first manned mission, a framework could be assembled to
hang the bucket from. The bucket structure would then be inflated and
attached to the framework. It would be similar to leaf bags that
hang from a metal band on a stand, conveniently holding the bag open.
The whole thing might end up the rough shape of a wheelbarrow.
The bag is "inflated" with an expanding foam or
something similar so that the regolith does not puncture the skin.
The structure should be strong enough for what we need, and would
take up less space than taking a stiff, pre-formed bucket.
This concept may not be practical on a purely robotic mission,
but using people to assemble the bucket could extend the usefulness
of a small rover.
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