We make high-capability space missions practical for a broad spectrum of business, scientific, and social applications.
We believe in the elegant, pragmatic use of robotics to drive down cost, improve capability, and increase reliability.
We will empower a thriving human space presence that explores the world beyond Earth orbit.
Originally spun out of Carnegie Mellon University in 2007 by William “Red” Whittaker, Astrobotic is pioneering affordable planetary access that promises to spark a new era of exploration, science, tourism, resource utilization, and mining. Astrobotic is based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
John Thornton has grown Astrobotic's business of delivering affordable space robotics technology and planetary missions by attracting technology contracts, equity investment, and payload customers. Thornton is coordinating the team and alliance for Peregrine's development and the first mission. At Carnegie Mellon, Thornton led the build of Scarab, a NASA concept robot for lunar drilling, and the first robot to carry a prototype of NASA's RESOLVE payload. He founded Carnegie Mellon's Advanced Composites Lab, a research, training, design, and manufacturing lab specializing in high performance, lightweight composites for robotics.
Dan Hendrickson leads Astrobotic’s business development efforts and payload sales. Prior to Astrobotic, Hendrickson served as the Director of Civil and Commercial Space Systems at the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA). During his time at AIA, Hendrickson was a consensus builder among a council of 50 U.S. space companies to provide the U.S. Government guidance on key space industry interests. Before transitioning to AIA, Hendrickson served as a civilian mission assurance engineer at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on five successful Atlas V launch campaigns.
Sharad Bhaskaran is a space industry veteran, and the leader of Astrobotic’s lunar missions. Prior to Astrobotic, he has 25 years of experience at Lockheed Martin (LM) successfully developing and managing payload projects for spaceflight applications, and he led negotiation and testing of more than 30 U.S. payloads onto the Mir Space Station. During his time at LM, Bhaskaran was the Program Manager for the West Coast portfolio, which included the $300 million NASA Ames Research Center Programs & Projects engineering and science services contract and Shuttle operations support contracts at Armstrong Flight Research Facility and White Sands Space Harbor. Bhaskaran supported the International Space Station (ISS) Human Research Facility in various project and leadership roles, contributing to successful launch and operation of the system on ISS. He began his career at LM as a Payload Systems Engineer, where he performed Spacelab payload structural analysis for three integrated racks that flew and operated on Shuttle missions SLS-1 and SLS-2.
Jeffrey Apeldoorn leads the Future Missions and Technology department. Apeldoorn has a wide international business development experience, global network, and past experience in lunar lander and rover development. He brings over 10 years of experience working on a wide variety of governmental and commercial missions. Today he is also a long-time visiting lecturer on “space debris” at the International Space University. Prior to Astrobotic, Apeldoorn supported U.S. and European aerospace and defense companies expanding their businesses across continents through his own consultancy company. Before this, Apeldoorn served as Vice President Corporate Affairs at OHB SE in Germany. Apeldoorn supported the OHB’s Group’s 2019+ strategy, strengthened the Group’s capabilities and competitiveness, and investigated expansion possibilities. As a testimony to his drive, one of OHB’s subsidiaries grew by 400% in annual revenue and doubled its employees during his tenure. Additionally, he was personally responsible for the company’s biggest single contract win in the last decade.
Andrew Horchler, Ph.D. is the Senior Research Scientist on the Future Missions and Technology Team. He is a Principal Investigator on contracts, particularly on our Resource Prospector Planning contract which aides NASA Ames mission planners in formulating a polar mission rover to go to the Moon. Horchler recently received his Ph.D. at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH where he was published extensively in over 50 papers, proceedings, abstracts, and patents. He wrote and won a National Science Foundation research proposal in which he designed and constructed a new 3D printed, soft worm-like robot and implemented a novel neural-inspired dynamical control scheme for segment coordination. Prior to completing his PhD, Horchler completed a fellowship at the Air Force Research Laboratory where he developed computational neuroscience approaches for sensor fusion of noisy time-varying input. He was a Tech Lead for Case’s DARPA Urban Challenge self-driving car team and led the creation and testing of driving behaviors and developed trajectory planning and mapping technology. Horchler also invented Mini-Whegs, a series of small, highly-mobile, energetic, and inexpensive robots.
Jeff Hopkins is the thermal and propulsion systems lead and provides systems engineering support on Astrobotic’s Lunar Mission, in which he is the primary designer and reviewer for the main thermal and propulsion systems and their subcomponents. Additionally, he coordinates support efforts with NASA through their no-funds exchanged Lunar CATALYST program. Hopkins brings nearly 20 years of experience with him. Most recently, he designed and implemented testing systems and technical training products for the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program at Bechtel Marine Propulsion Corporation. Prior to that, Hopkins was a researcher at Penn State University, where he designed and analyzed data for experimental space propulsion systems.
As the lead Guidance Navigation and Control (GNC) Engineer for the Peregrine Lunar lander, Theresa Klein focuses primarily on flight software and simulation development. Before she joined the Astrobotic Team, she was a Senior GNC Engineer at Orbital Sciences Corporation, where she supported Cygnus spacecraft GNC subsystem development, testing, and on-orbit operations. Klein developed GNC simulation models and mission simulation test software, performed mission simulation testing of the integrated spacecraft, and performed mission operations. Klein completed her doctoral research at the University of Arizona, Robotics and Neural Systems Lab. Her research included designing and building robots based on principles of human and animal biomechanics and neurobiology.
Red Whittaker has developed dozens of successful systems in field robotics, space exploration, autonomous vehicles, mining, and agriculture. Whittaker has also led successful consortia and companies. He developed CMU's National Robotics Engineering Center from modest NASA seed funding; collaborated with Caterpillar to automate their entire product fleet and develop 11 patents on autonomous mining and excavating; and founded RedZone Robotics on government seed funding for nuclear cleanup. Whittaker won the DARPA Urban Challenge and spun out the resulting technology through a partnership with General Motors.
Paul C. O'Brien is the former CEO and chairman of the board of New England Telephone after having served as executive vice president at New York Telephone. Earlier in his career, he worked for GE and served in the US Air Force. O'Brien currently sits on a variety of boards of both private and public companies. He holds a BS in electrical engineering from Manhattan College and an MBA from New York University. He has received three honorary doctorates.
O'Brien brings more than 40 years experience in the telecommunications and information technology industry with an extensive background in information systems, project management, technical marketing. He is the president of the O'Brien Group, a technology investment and consulting firm. He also serves as the president of Pan-Asia Development, an investment firm pursuing opportunities in Asia.
William F. Readdy is founder and managing partner of Discovery Partners International, specializing in global space development and aerospace program management. He has three decades of experience across a broad range of aerospace specialties. He previously served as the NASA Associate Administrator for Space Operations, an astronaut, a Naval aviator and a test pilot. As a veteran pilot astronaut, Readdy made three space flights, STS-42 (January 22-30, 1992), STS-51 (September 12-22, 1993) and STS-79 (September 16-26, 1996).
At NASA, his assignments included serving as the agency's director of operations at Star City, Russia, where astronauts and cosmonauts train for launch aboard Russian Soyuz vehicles. As NASA Associate Administrator for Space Operations, he had more than $6 billion budget authority, and oversight for the Kennedy, Johnson, Marshall and Stennis Space Centers as well as programmatic oversight for International Space Station (ISS), Space Shuttle, Space Communications and Space Launch Vehicles. Readdy is the recipient of the Presidential Rank award, two NASA Distinguished Service medals, the Distinguished Flying Cross and holds the rank of Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, and the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. He is also an academician of the International Academy of Astronautics. Readdy serves on the board of directors of Spacehab/Astrotech, Corp. and also serves as chairman of the board of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education.
Vishwas Karve is currently VP & GM at Viavi Solutions where he leads the business in Aerospace, Defense and Military communications testing. Vishwas previously was VP, Strategy & Business development at International Rectifier (IR), an early investor in Astrobotic Technology. IR was acquired by Infineon Technologies in 2014. Infineon is a world leader in advanced power management technology, from digital, analog and mixed-signal ICs to advanced circuit devices, power systems and components. The world's leading manufacturers of computers, appliances, automobiles, consumer electronics and defense systems rely on Infineon technology to drive the performance and efficiency of their products.