Rover Docking

ESA multi-dome base being constructed ©ESA/Foster + Partners

Rover Docking


Docking rovers on a space body is a difficult task, as any wrong move can result in irreparable damage to the delicate rover craft. However, it is extremely important to be able to pass astronauts and supplies between craft. The European Space Agency has a vision to create a “Moon Village”, a permanent manned lunar base. The structure of this village will utilise multiple small habitats, with rovers transporting astronauts and supplies around the lunar surface on scientific and engineering missions.

The Challenge

This task challenges entrants to build a suitable lunar rover demonstration vehicle, that can autonomously dock with a stationary target. The design used to accomplish this task is entirely up to the entrants, so long as the vehicle fits within a footprint of 40cm by 30cm.


  • Size and weight of any space technology must be minimised to reduce cost. The best design will be small and lightweight
  • More complex systems are more likely to go wrong, and a failure in space can be costly and dangerous. A good design must show a thoughtful approach to reducing complexity.
  • A failed docking could damage equipment, so a well designed docking system should not miss, and definitely should not collide with its target.

Some Starting Points

These resources may give you some ideas to help you begin making your solution, although there could be other ways to go about the problem as well.

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