Artist's illustration of Spacebit's small

(Image: © Spacebit)

The United Kingdom is set to make its own giant leap soon, with a very small rover.

A 2.2-lb. (1 kilogram), four-legged robot built by London-based Spacebit will launch aboard Astrobotic’s Peregrine moon lander in July of 2021, representatives of both companies announced recently. 

It will be a flight of firsts — the first mission for both Peregrine and its rocket, United Launch Alliance’s new Vulcan Centaur; the first trip to the moon’s surface by a UK-built craft; and the first time a legged robot has explored another world.

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“We could not be more excited to fly this mission with Astrobotic,” Spacebit CEO Pavlo Tanasyuk said in a statement late last month. “This mission will result in the first payload from the UK to reach the moon surface and mark the beginning of a new era in commercial space exploration for Britain.”

The rover will move at least 33 feet (10 meters) on the lunar surface and beam high-definition video and other data home to its handlers during its 10-Earth-day mission, Spacebit representatives said. 

And this mission will be just the beginning, if all goes according to plan. Eventually, Spacebit aims to launch a fleet of these little robots to explore the lunar subsurface and near subsurface — especially lava tubes that would be a good place for a human settlement, company officials have said.

Spacebit has other ambitions as well, as its website makes clear: “Our main goal is to democratize access to space by tokenizing all of our commercial space missions around the Earth, the moon and beyond. By decentralizing our missions, we also enable citizens to dire