Rutgers students aim for human expansion beyond Earth

By Kithmy Wickramasinghe

Several Rutgers students have formed a startup called Ararat Robotics with the aim of making it possible for humans to one day live in space from water that exists in craters on the moon. 

Georgiy Aleksanyan, a School of Engineering junior as well as founder and CEO of Ararat Robotics, said the organization focuses on modular space resource mining systems and hopes to build solutions that will enable humanity to expand beyond Earth in the future.

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The company first met in April, with Aleksanyan and six other individuals discussing directions for the group, namely how to promote human expansion beyond Earth via the democratization of space. 

Executive team members include Hagop ‘Jacob’ Dayermenjian and Raul Cordies-Maso, both School of Engineering juniors, Emma Garibian, a School of Arts and Sciences junior and Ethan Muchnik, a student at Carnegie Mellon University.

“With the total population growing beyond 7 billion, it has become apparent that humanity can not stake its entire survival solely on Earth, especially given the human-caused environmental defects that year after year become more apparent,” Aleksanyan said. “At Ararat Robotics we envision a world where humans live and work on multiple planetary and lunar bodies throughout space pursuing survival and human advancement.”

He said that due to extreme temperatures, water is exclusively found in the form of ice on the moon, unlike Earth, and makes up a very small percentage of the moon’s total mass compared to Earth.

Due to this, knowing the location of lunar water is potentially very useful in establishing a human presence on the moon in the future.

The company plans to fulfill its mission by using the scientific method to ask questions, investigate past discoveries and test their hypotheses, Aleksanyan said. 

“We believe that (the best way to pursue space) is through the use of modular robotics systems that we could establish the initial presence and build a foundation before humans can land on any extraterrestrial body,” he said. “After months of investigation into the data accumulated over decades of space flight and missions, we share a common belief among space companies that the moon makes the most sense as the gateway to human multi-planetary existence.”

Aleksanyan said the group is currently negotiating a contract with the Armenian Engineers and Scientists of America to build a cube satellite that will allow them to conduct proof-of-concept experiments in lower-earth orbit as a precursor to the company’s ultimate goal of lunar mining. 

Additionally, he said that members of Ararat Robotics are also working on an article about the moon, which will consolidate important scientific discoveries from previous lunar missions into a single work in order to support their research.

On Oct. 25, the company will publish a white paper on their website which will discuss specific details about the location and density of lunar water, Aleksanyan said. The paper will also include a discussion regarding the moon’s other resources and the advantages provided by lunar water in comparison to these other resources. 

Students interested in joining are able to learn more and stay up-to-date via the organization’s website and newsletter, he said. Additionally, the company will soon begin a hiring round due to its changing needs.

Aleksanyan said he wants people to be aware of the company’s goals and reasons behind them as well as would like for more people to get involved. He said Ararat Robotics is not just a company but also a cause for uniting individuals through technology development.

“We are the manifestation of the desire of the current generation to unite and preserve humankind in the face of the human-caused natural disasters to come in the near future,” Aleksanyan said. “We are at the forefront of human advancement in space technology out of a need and we base our progress on our core values: integrity, excellence, agility, unity, innovation and transparency.”

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