Lunar X Prize - Collaborators Off and Running

AstroboticTechnology, Inc. has chosen Raytheon Company to help chase down the Google Lunar X Prize and plan a lunar landing mission.

"Wehave great confidence in Raytheon's ability to co-develop a spacecraft that canland on a dime," said William "Red" Whittaker, Astrobotic'sChief Technology Officer and Lunar Mission Commander.

Whittakerannounced in Septemberthat Astrobotic was joining the race for the Google Lunar X Prize,which offers $30 million for successfully landing a privately funded roboticrover on the moon. Astrobotic plans to contract Raytheon for help withengineering management, lander design, and high bandwidth telecommunicationsfor its lunar program. Raytheon will also focus on developing key technologiesfor advanced thrust controlled descent, ascent and movement, includingautomated topographic scene matching.

"Weare 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 forthe company's space-proven technologies."

Raytheonhas experience in space missions that dates back to the Apollo era, whenRaytheon provided solutions for the Saturn launch vehicle, lunar modules, andspace suits. Raytheon has deployed more than 100 unique control systems formilitary and commercial satellites as well as 75 GPS systems for the Departmentof Defense, civil, commercial and national markets ranging in scope fromnavigation, transportation, surveying and rescue operations.

Whittaker, alsoa leading professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon University, formed Astrobotic Technology, Inc. with several colleaguesas a privately held seed-stage company in November 2007. He plans to carry outthe lunar mission as well as undertake potential commercial orbital transferservices and potential cis-lunar services.

The prizeis co-sponsored by Silicon Valley powerhouseGoogle, Inc. and the X Prize Foundation. The foundation's previous prize – the$10 million Ansari X Prize to spur commercial development of suborbitalspaceflight – was won by ScaledComposites of California, which is now helping RichardBranson's Virgin Galactic Corp. build a commercialversion of its vehicle.

Have a news tip, correction or comment? Let us know at community@space.com.