Astrobotic Technology, Inc. has chosen Raytheon Company to help chase down the Google Lunar X Prize and plan a lunar landing mission.
"We have great confidence in Raytheon's ability to co-develop a spacecraft that can land on a dime," said William "Red" Whittaker, Astrobotic's Chief Technology Officer and Lunar Mission Commander.
Whittaker announced in September that Astrobotic was joining the race for the Google Lunar X Prize, which offers $30 million for successfully landing a privately funded robotic rover on the moon. Astrobotic plans to contract Raytheon for help with engineering management, lander design, and high bandwidth telecommunications for its lunar program. Raytheon will also focus on developing key technologies for advanced thrust controlled descent, ascent and movement, including automated topographic scene matching.
"We are delighted to work with Dr. Whittaker on this extraordinary lunar project," said Mike Booen, Raytheon vice president of Advanced Missile Defense & Directed Energy. "Development of a lunar lander is a natural extension for the company's space-proven technologies."
Raytheon has experience in space missions that dates back to the Apollo era, when Raytheon provided solutions for the Saturn launch vehicle, lunar modules, and space suits. Raytheon has deployed more than 100 unique control systems for military and commercial satellites as well as 75 GPS systems for the Department of Defense, civil, commercial and national markets ranging in scope from navigation, transportation, surveying and rescue operations.
Whittaker, also a leading professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon University, formed Astrobotic Technology, Inc. with several colleagues as a privately held seed-stage company in November 2007. He plans to carry out the lunar mission as well as undertake potential commercial orbital transfer services and potential cis-lunar services.
The prize is co-sponsored by Silicon Valley powerhouse Google, Inc. and the X Prize Foundation. The foundation's previous prize the $10 million Ansari X Prize to spur commercial development of suborbital spaceflight was won by Scaled Composites of California, which is now helping Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic Corp. build a commercial version of its vehicle.
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