Neptec Design Group has received a Canadian Space Agency contract worth 11.5 million Canadian dollars ($11.3 million) to build a prototype Lunar Exploration Light Rover, the Ottawa-based company announced Nov. 22.

The contract runs through December 2012 and culminates in field testing the rover at lunar analogue test sites on Earth that mimic the Moon’s rocky terrain.

Mike Kearns, Neptec’s vice president of space exploration, said in a statement that the rover’s design “will facilitate surface transportation for payloads, cargo and crew during moon exploration.” He said it also would “enable drilling and excavation, manipulator and tool integration, and vision and state-of-the-art communications systems.”

Neptec’s rover team includes Ontario Drive and Gear, Ltd., COM DEV Canada, McGill University, Northern Centre for Advanced Technology Inc. and NGC Aerospace.