Only Team to Secure Three Milestone Wins and $1,750,000 in prize money
Third Win for One of Kind Landing Technology
January 27, 2015
SAN FRANSICO, CA – In the race for the Moon, Astrobotic captured a third Milestone Prize in the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition. In order to secure the prize, Astrobotic successfully demonstrated key elements of the landing technology capable of soft landing a spacecraft on the Moon. The Landing Milestone prize includes a cash award of $1 million.
A key component to Astrobotic’s third milestone win is the successful demonstration of the first commercially developed, visually guided lunar landing system. The software processes real-time pictures of the surface of the Moon and compares them to onboard maps to determine the lander’s exact location; similar to how GPS works on Earth. On approach to the intended landing site, the system scans the ground to detect and avoid obstacles, ensuring a safe touchdown.
Astrobotic has also advanced and demonstrated key components of the lander’s propulsion system. Most spacecraft operations beyond low earth orbit in the past 20 years have used hydrazine propellant, which is highly toxic and difficult to test on Earth. Astrobotic’s use of green propellant enables safe testing on Earth, increasing reliability for the 2016 mission.
Both the landing software and propellant technologies underwent numerous tests throughout 2014 at the Mojave Air and Space Port.
“The technology developed for the landing milestone sets Astrobotic apart from all other teams.” said John Thornton, CEO. “This software strengthens the mission’s precision and safety, two major components necessary for a successful mission.”
This is the third milestone win for Astrobotic. In December 2014, it was announced that Astrobotic, in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, secured two milestone wins, one for imaging technology, and additionally for the mobility capabilities of the AndyRover. With wins in all three categories, Astrobotic has secured prize money totaling $1,750,000. The prize money will further fund lander and rover development.
About Astrobotic: Astrobotic Technology Inc. is a space logistics company that delivers payloads to the Moon for companies, governments, universities, non-profits and individuals. Astrobotic’s spacecraft accommodates multiple customers on a single flight, offering flexibility at an industry-defining low price. Astrobotic is a NASA contractor, and is also an official partner with NASA on the Lunar CATALYST program. With its partner, Carnegie Mellon University, Astrobotic is pursuing the Google Lunar XPRIZE and is scheduled to launch the first mission in 2016. Astrobotic was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA.