ASTROBOTIC PRESS RELEASE
Astrobotic Technology Inc. today announced it has signed a contract with SpaceX to launch Astroboticâ€™s robotic payload to the Moon on a Falcon 9.Â Â The expedition will search for water and deliver payloads, with the robot narrating its adventure while sending 3D video.Â The mission could launch as soon as December 2013.
The Falcon 9 upper stage will sling Astrobotic on a four-day cruise to the Moon.Â Â Astrobotic will then orbit the moon to align for landing.Â The spacecraft will land softly, precisely and safely using technologies pioneered by Carnegie Mellon University for guiding autonomous cars.Â The rover will explore for three months, operate continuously during the lunar days, and hibernate through the lunar nights.Â The lander will sustain payload operations with generous power and communications.
â€œThe mission is the first of a serial campaign,â€ said Dr. William â€œRedâ€ Whittaker, chairman of Astrobotic Technology and founder of the universityâ€™s Field Robotics Center. â€œAstroboticâ€™s missions will pursue new resources, deliver rich experiences, serve new customers and open new markets.Â Â Spurred further by incentives, contracts, and the Google Lunar X-Prize, this is a perfect storm for new exploration.â€
â€œThe moon has economicÂ and scientific treasures that went undiscovered during the Apollo era, and our robot explorers will spearhead this new lunar frontier,â€ said David Gump, president of Astrobotic Technology.Â Â â€œThe initial mission will bank up to $24 million in Googleâ€™s Lunar X-Prize, Floridaâ€™s $2 million launch bonus, and NASAâ€™s $10 million landing contract while delivering 240 pounds of payload for space agencies and corporate marketers.â€
In addition to Carnegie Mellon, where several prototypes have been built and tested, the mission is supported by industrial partners such as International Rectifier Corporation and corporate sponsors such as Caterpillar Inc. and ANSYS Inc.