Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Additional ILDD contract awarded to Astrobotic

Prototype Astrobotic Scout Rover undergoes field tests in a
Big Island "lunar proxy" environment in 2011 [Astronbotic].

NASA has awarded Astrobotic Technology Inc. an additional task in its $10 million Innovative Lunar Demonstrations Data (ILDD) contract under which NASA buys information about the company’s commercial robotic expeditions to the Moon. The $100,000 task order brings total funding under the ILDD contract thus far to $610,000.

Astrobotic Technology will launch its first expedition on a Falcon 9 rocket under contract from Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX).

 In May 2015, it will deliver a robot to the Moon’s south pole to prospect for water, methane and other minerals. Turned into rocket propellant, these resources will dramatically reduce the cost of space exploration by providing an off-planet refueling station.

“The number one challenge in space exploration today is the cost,” said David Gump, Astrobotic’s president. “Commercial robotic expeditions can serve space agencies at one-third the cost they traditionally spend with cost-plus contractors. And by prospecting for rocket fuel ingredients at the Moon’s poles, we can provide a much lower cost source for spacecraft propellant as they venture further away from Earth.”

Astrobotic is a spinout from the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, which carries out lunar research funded by Astrobotic. 

In October 2010 NASA awarded first phase ILDD contracts to Astrobotic (Pittsburg, PA), The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, Inc., Cambridge, MA, Dynetics Inc., Huntsville, AL, Earthrise Space Inc., Orlando, FL, Moon Express Inc., San Francisco, CA and Team FREDNET, The Open Space Society, Inc., Huntsville, AL.

Read the full Astrobotic news release HERE.

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