End-To-End Sample Chain
Honeybee Robotics Exploration Systems offers end-to-end solutions for sample collection, handling and delivery for deep space science missions. Whether it is analyzing the geotechnical properties of regolith or searching for signs of life on a celestial body or anything in between, Honeybee has the expertise and know-how to develop and tailor the sample chain to the customers’ needs. We have proven processes and technology with NASA, DoD and commercial clients and are ready to solve the most complex problem for our next customer.
Honeybee Robotics Exploration Systems has been a partner on multiple flight missions and mission concept teams. Some example of missions and mission concepts:
DraCO system on Dragonfly – Dragonfly is a NASA New Frontiers mission set to fly to Saturn’s moon Titan in 2026. It is a drone that will hop from site to site collecting and analyzing samples looking for organics. Honeybee will provide the complete sample chain: including redundant drills, pneumatic sample collection and transfer, diverter valves, blowers, and sample carousel. Our DRaCO system will collect sample from a 2cm depth, pneumatically deliver to the sample carousel and then the carousel will insert the sample into the Gas Chromatography and Laser Desorption Mass Spectrometers. We will be the only member on the team to touch any sample!
SPIDER Water Extraction (concept) – Designed for a mission to water-rich asteroids (Carbonaceous Chondrites), Honeybee Robotics’ Spider Water Extraction System is a spacecraft that drills and acquires icy soil samples, extracts the water for later use, and disposes dry soil to prepare for another round of sample collection. The architecture enables each drill to generate significant down-force in the absence of gravity — the auger drills mounted on each leg provide anchoring force as they sample for water-rich material.
Comet Surface Sample Return Probe (concept) – Studying comets can provide clues to the birth of the Solar System. The Comet Surface Sample Return Probe, built for NASA, comprises the spacecraft systems necessary to obtain a sample from the nucleus of a comet, hermetically seal the sample within a capsule, and convey the sealed sample to an orbiting spacecraft which can return the sample to Earth. Honeybee’s experience with planetary sample acquisition and analysis enables us to design a reliable, effective sample acquisition and handling subsystem, a sealed sample return canister, and the systems-level engineering required for the Comet Surface Sample Return Probe. Honeybee is also analyzing the mechanics of orbiting, approaching and landing on a comet.
The World Is Not Enough (WINE) – is a concept for a new generation of spacecraft that takes advantage of In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) to explore space. WINE mines to extract water from planetary regolith, capturing the water as ice in a cold trap and heating it to create steam for propulsion. By propulsively “hopping” from location to location, WINE can explore Solar System bodies as well as individual bodies (e.g. WINE could cover much greater distances on Europa or the Moon than a rover, and can reach otherwise inaccessible regions). And by refueling itself as it goes, WINE’s range is not limited by consumables. This makes WINE particularly well suited to prospecting and reconnaissance missions.