(Pittsburgh, PA) Astrobotic Technology has announced a new partnership with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for development of robotic lunar landing capability.
Astrobotic will partner with NASA under the new Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown (Lunar CATALYST) initiative. CATALYST called for partnership proposals to develop commercial robotic lunar landers that could be integrated with U.S. launch vehicles to deliver NASA’s cargo to the lunar surface. Commercial lunar transportation capabilities could support science and exploration objectives, such as sample returns, geophysical network deployment, resource prospecting, and technology demonstrations.
"Moon landing once symbolized the pinnacle of human achievement,” said William “Red” Whittaker, Astrobotic’s Chairman. “CATALYST now evolves that to enterprise and to the remarkable capability that is possible through this public-private partnership. CATALYST will build a bright future combining a mix of new resourcefulness with legacy and innovation."
Astrobotic was selected by a panel of experts from NASA based on its proposal to develop a commercially viable lunar cargo delivery capability. Proposals were judged on the achievability of lander development and performance, and likelihood of success. Astrobotic will now negotiate a Space Act Agreement with NASA that makes personnel, facilities, and expertise available to the company to support its lunar lander development.
According to John Thornton, Astrobotic’s CEO, “This NASA partnership, modeled after the highly successful Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program, will extend the reach of commercial capabilities to the Moon. Astrobotic is making it possible to buy lunar delivery and utility services at a fraction of the cost. Together with NASA, we will create a new era that makes space available to everyone.” Astrobotic was spun out of Carnegie Mellon University in 2008, and is headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA.