Press Release

MOONWALK - Simulation - Rio Tinto


MOONWALK is an exciting step further into the future of human space exploration, where humankind pairs with technology to transcend known boundaries.
credit: Moonwalk Consortium, photo: Airbus, 2016
The MOONWALK team has completed a two week long Mars Simulation campaign in Rio Tinto near Seville, Spain between 16 and 29 April 2016.

This was one of the very few integrated mission simulations conducted on European grounds. The Rio Tinto tests present the next step further in preparing exploration to extra-terrestrial planetary surfaces such as Mars and moon.

Special features demonstrated and tested in Rio Tinto included SHEE, a Self-Deployable Habitat for Extreme Environments. SHEE was utilized in each simulation. It’s suitport (an airlock in which the astronaut can step into the spacesuit) allowed the simulation astronauts (10 from France, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Spain, United States of America  and Germany) to step into the suit before undocking and exploring the surface. SHEE also included the local mission control, which was connected to the Mission Control Centre located in Zaventem near Brussels. In addition SHEE hosted an astrobiology lab where the samples taken on the astronaut excursions could be analysed.

The main scenarios tested included surface excursions to two different sites, one of which presented a cave which was explored by the rover. Astronaut-astronaut and rover-astronaut scenarios were conducted with the different simulation astronauts and with the rover guided through gesture control. The astronauts wore a new space simulation suit based on the NASA Z1 series and used different tools to gather solid samples and loose material. The tools such as a pantograph scoop and a foldable pick-up claw could be used single-handed. The astronauts had to follow very specific procedures that were communicated to the astronauts via a touch pad mounted on the space simulation suit. All astronauts were equipped with a bio-monitoring system, which observed their heart rate and would have indicated any destabilisation of their health. The rover was equipped with a 360 camera and controlled by the arm movements of the astronaut. It also carried the tools and samples for the astronaut in a payload box.

Experiments from external invited researchers in Europe and the US were conducted including 360 degree video panning, a bio-monitoring system, takeover of mission Control from the US and a psychologically oriented survey about human robot perception.

More than 300 visitors in addition to three school classes came to view the simulations on the public day. The children competition winner was present and spoke her first sentence to be said on Mars while being in the space simulation suit:

                                    “Today Mars, tomorrow the stars.”

Press reports from all over the world including Europe, North and South America and others in print and on TV including Spanish news documented the last two weeks.
SHEE habitat; credit photo: Bruno Stubenrauch, 2016
ASTRONAUT-ROVER collaboration; credit: Moonwalk consortium, photo: Comex, 2016
ASTRONAUT-ASTRONAUT cooperation; credit: Moonwalk consortium, photo: LIQUIFER Systems Group, 2016
ASTRONAUT-ASTRONAUT cooperation, all female crew; Moonwalk consortium, photo: FH-WS, 2016
Subsea Marseilles, France

The second test campaign will be conducted from 28. May - 12. June, at the Subsea Marseilles Lunar Analogue site in France.
Press Conference
All members of the press are invited for open interviews and access to project and project site. Specific dates will be announced on the project’s website under ‘participate.’
Project MOONWALK will be opened to the public and will host an outreach activity. Specific dates will be announced on the project’s website under ‘participate.’
International Analogue Mission Control Centre, Brussels
All members of the press are invited as observers to the International Analogue Mission Control Centre in Brussels, Belgium during the extent of the simulations.
Register for press and public visit in Marseilles


Project Coordinator

Technical Manager


German Centre for Artificial Intelligence  (DFKI) Bremen, Germany
Marseilles, France
Airbus Group
Newport, UK
LIQUIFER Systems Group
Vienna, Austria
Space Applications Services
Zaventem, Belgium
NTNU Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Space
Trondheim, Norway
Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (INTA) - Centro de Astrobiological (INTA-CSIC)
Madrid, Spain

Dr. Thomas Vögele
DFKI, Bremen, Germany

Dr. Peter Weiss
COMEX, France

Dr. Barbara Imhof
LIQUIFER Systems Group, Vienna, Austria
+43 1 218 85 05

External research experiments
ADAPA 360 - 360-Degree VR Video Camera System for Space Suit and Helmet
Team: Ali Zareiee, ADAPA, Norway
Cave Explorer - Assessment of performance for the wearable electro-optical diagnostic health assistant system
Team: Human Spaceflight Department, OHB System AG; Medical Engineering Department, IMES University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt
SCALE: Shared Cognitive Architecture for Long-term Exploration
Team: Leslie DeChurch (Georgia Tech), Noshir Contractor (Northwestern), Jeff Johnson (U. of Florida); United States (NASA Behavioral Health & Performance)

Psychobot: Human Psychological Relationship with a Planetary Exploration Robot
Team: Yvett Mikola, PhD student, Complutense University of Madrid (UCM). Madrid, Spain

Project MOONWALK, is a 3-year cooperative Research & Development project funded by the European Commission under the Space theme of the 7th Framework Programme and aims to compare the performance of different compositions of astronaut-robot teams over multiple tasks and operational scenarios, in two Analogue environments.

SHEE - Self deployable Habitat for Extreme Environments was co-funded by the European Commission under the Space theme of the 7th Framework Programme and was concluded Dec. 2016.
Copyright © 2016 LIQUIFER Systems Group GmbH, All rights reserved.

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