Pittsburgh, PA – Astrobotic applauds today’s White House commemoration of the 45th anniversary of Apollo 17, the last American mission to have soft-landed on the Moon, and commends the President’s signing of an executive order to return America to the Moon. Astrobotic CEO John Thornton made the following remarks in reaction to today’s events.
“Apollo 17 was an important scientific and exploration mission, but it also served as a challenge to all Americans, beckoning us to return to the Moon following the close of the Apollo Program. Astrobotic applauds the President’s leadership in signing today’s executive order to make that a reality, and I’m proud to say our lander service is poised to be central to America’s return to the Moon.
As we prepare to return American boots to the surface, the next American footprints on the Moon will be robotic - and they will be from America’s Rust Belt. As highlighted in testimony before Congress in September, Astrobotic has been hard at work developing low-cost, lunar delivery service, and has led the world with 11-deals for our first mission. Astrobotic represents America’s most credible and near-term opportunity to return to the Moon.
A significant enabler of this progress has been our partnership with NASA through the leadership of the Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) program and the Lunar CATALYST Program. Lunar CATALYST has provided us access to some of the best expertise in the industry, and simultaneously provided NASA deep insight into our Peregrine Lunar Lander program. NASA’s stated intent to buy services from the commercial lunar delivery industry is a foundational step toward landing the first NASA payloads on the Moon since Apollo 17, and paving the way for the development of capabilities to support a human return.
The emergence of American robotic lunar landers will provide the U.S. with access to the lunar surface for the first time in more than 45-years. In fact, Astrobotic recommends NASA respond with a “Lunar Surge” of science, technology and robotic exploration missions to rapidly expand our presence on the Moon with robotic landers starting in 2020 to ensure a robust American presence across key areas of the Lunar surface, in advance of a human return. Such a surge could be done within existing budget profile by taking advantage of privately-developed lunar landers like Peregrine, without deviating resources from other critical development programs and exploration capabilities, like the Deep Space Gateway.
This “surge” could demonstrate America’s unparalleled access to the Moon’s surface, and explore the Moon’s resource and shelter potential to enable the long-term presence of astronauts. With a sustained surge campaign of robotic precursor missions, America can prospect for water ice at the lunar poles, evaluate the habitability of lunar lava tubes (caves), test the peaks of persistent light as a power source, and get a firm grasp of how to make use of the Moon to propel exploration. These robotic missions could carry the American flag to multiple destinations that have never been explored by any country, and once again take up the mantle of exploration that Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt heroically led in 1972.
We look forward to continuing our work with NASA through public-private partnerships that bring America back to the Moon. Today’s event highlights exactly the kind of bold action needed to restore American leadership on the Moon. Astrobotic’s Rust Belt workforce stands ready to deliver.”
Astrobotic Technology is a lunar logistics company that delivers payloads to the Moon for companies, governments, universities, nonprofits, and individuals. The company’s spacecraft accommodates multiple customers on a single flight, offering lunar delivery at an industry-defining price of $1.2 Million per kilogram. Astrobotic is a partner with NASA through a Space Act Agreement under the Lunar CATALYST program and has 23 prior and ongoing NASA contracts. The company has 11-deals in place for its first mission and dozens of customer negotiations for upcoming missions. Astrobotic was spun out of Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute in 2007 and is headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA.