Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Number of employees
|50-100 (As of July 1, 2012[update])|
Astrobotic Technology is an American privately held company that is developing space robotics technology for lunar and planetary missions. It was founded in 2007 by Carnegie Mellon professor Red Whittaker and his associates, with the goal of winning the Google Lunar X Prize. The company is based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The first launch of one of its spacecraft, the Peregrine lunar lander, is expected to take place in late 2022.
On June 11, 2020, Astrobotic received a second contract for the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program. NASA will pay Astrobotic US$199.5 million to carry the VIPER rover. Astrobotic will take NASA's VIPER rover to the lunar surface in November 2024.
The team stated a goal from the start in 2007: to be the first commercial operation to land their Red Rover on the Moon, using their Artemis Lander. The company's first running prototype of Red Rover was completed the same year, and the concept lander was renamed Griffin.
On July 28, 2008, NASA awarded Astrobotic funding for a concept study on "regolith moving methods", and the next year, Astrobotic began to receive Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding from NASA totaling over US$795,000 to investigate prospecting for lunar resources, which eventually led to a concept called Polar Excavator.
On October 15, 2010, NASA awarded a contract to Astrobotic for Innovative Lunar Demonstrations Data (ILDD) firm-fixed-price indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contracts with a total value up to US$30.1 million over a period of up to five years, and in December 2010, NASA's US$500,000 ILDD project for further Lunar Demonstrations Data was awarded to Astrobotic.
Astrobotic's "Technologies Enabling Exploration of Skylights, Lava Tubes, and Caves", was a Phase I selection for NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC). In April 2011, Astrobotic received a US$599,000 two-year contract to develop a scalable gravity offload device for testing rover mobility in simulated lunar gravity under NASA's Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR).
In May 2012, David Gump left the position of President of Astrobotic and John Thornton took his place.
On April 30, 2014, NASA announced that Astrobotic Technology was one of the three companies selected for the Lunar CATALYST initiative. NASA was negotiating a 3-year no-funds-exchanged Space Act Agreement (SAA) where the Griffin lander may be involved. The CATALYST agreement was extended in October 2017 for 2 years.
On June 2, 2016, Astrobotic Technology announced a new design of its Griffin concept lander and named it Peregrine. Airbus Defence and Space signed a memorandum of understanding to provide engineering support for Astrobotic as it refines the lander's design. In December 2016, Astrobotic slipped their estimated launch date to 2019 and separated from the Google Lunar X Prize.
On November 29, 2018, Astrobotic was declared eligible to bid on NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services to deliver science and technology payloads to the Moon. Astrobotic's successful bid entailed a US$79.5 million contract to deliver payloads to Lacus Mortis. Astrobotic set an initial target of fourteen payloads to launch starting in July 2021.
In September 2019, Spacebit signed an agreement to deliver the first UK lunar rover Asagumo on Astrobotic's upcoming mission in 2021 and named this "Spacebit mission one".
On September 25, 2019, John Thornton of Astrobotic was named CEO of the Year by the Pittsburgh Technology Council at the 23rd annual Tech50 awards ceremony.
On January 24, 2021, MrBeast, a YouTuber, announced that he would be placing a payload, a hard drive containing large numbers of digital image files submitted by anyone who contributed US$10 via his online store, on the Peregrine lander.
In June 2021, the maiden flight of Vulcan Centaur, carrying the first Peregrine lander as its payload, was delayed to 2022 due to payload and engine testing delays.
In November 2021, Astrobotic Technology was named one of the 'World's Best Employers in the Space Industry' by Everything Space, a recruitment platform specializing in the space industry.
As of 2018, payload delivery to lunar orbit is $300,000 per kilogram ($140,000/lb); delivery to the lunar surface is $1,200,000 per kilogram ($540,000/lb); and $2,000,000 per kilogram ($910,000/lb) for deploying a rover.
In April 2011, Astrobotic contracted with SpaceX for a Falcon 9 launch of a lunar north pole mission for as early as December 2013. The mission was intended to launch the Griffin lander and deliver "a small rover and up to about 110 kg (240 lb) of payload to the surface of the Moon". The launch date slipped to 2015, and it was first named Polar Excavator, and then Icebreaker, that would target the lunar north pole. This expedition's rover was to be Polaris. A model of the Polaris rover was unveiled in October 2012, and the company indicated that they were still under contract to SpaceX for a Falcon 9 mission. The launch date further slipped to 2016, and Astrobotic contracted with two other GLXP teams including Team Hakuto and Team AngelicvM to share the launch expenses. The agreement was to launch the rovers of all teams on a single SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.1 which would then use the Astrobotic Griffin lander. After landing on the lunar surface, all teams would have competed against each other to achieve the specific GLXP objectives and earn the various prizes. The Griffin lander was never built, and Icebreaker mission was not launched.
In July 2017, Astrobotic announced an agreement had been reached with United Launch Alliance (ULA) to launch their Peregrine lander aboard a Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle. This first lunar lander mission, called Mission One, was initially planned to be launched in July 2021.
By May 2019, Mission One had 14 commercial payloads including small rovers from Hakuto, Team AngelicvM, and a larger rover from the Carnegie Mellon University named Andy that has a mass of 33 kg (73 lb) and is 103 cm (41 in) tall. A small rover, weighing 1.5 kg (3.3 lb), named Spacebit is included, and it moves on four legs. It is a technological demonstrator and will travel a distance of at least 10 m (33 ft). Other payloads aboard the lander is a library, in micro print on nickel, which will include Wikipedia contents and Long Now Foundation's Rosetta Project.
On November 29, 2018, Astrobotic was made eligible to bid on NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) to deliver science and technology payloads to the Moon, and in May 2019, it was awarded its first lander contract for NASA. Therefore, in addition to the 14 commercial payloads, the lander will carry 14 NASA-sponsored payloads, for a total of 28.
In June 2021, United Launch Alliance CEO Tory Bruno announced that the maiden flight of Vulcan Centaur, with Mission One aboard, had been delayed to 2022 due to payload and engine testing delays. As of April 2022, Mission One is expected to be launched in late 2022.
Peregrine will carry a maximum payload mass of 90 kg (200 lb) during Mission One, and it is planned to land on Lacus Mortis, a relatively flat plateau at 44°N 25°E, and operate for about 8 Earth days. The payload mass for the planned second mission (Mission Two) is capped at 175 kg (386 lb), and the Mission Three and later missions would carry the full payload capacity of 265 kg (584 lb).
|Designer||Astrobotic Technology and|
Airbus Defence and Space
|Country of origin||United States|
|Applications||Commercial lunar transport|
|Spacecraft type||Cruise, lunar orbit and surface operations|
|Launch mass||Mission 1: 1,283 kg (2,829 lb) |
|Payload capacity||Up to 265 kg (584 lb)|
|Design life||One lunar day (14 days Earth)|
|Length||1.9 m (6 ft 3 in)|
|Diameter||2.5 m (8 ft 2 in)|
The Peregrine lander was announced in 2016. It inherits designs from their previous concept lander called Griffin, which was larger but with the same payload capacity. Astrobotic had contracted Airbus Defence and Space to provide additional engineering support as they refine the lander's design.
Peregrine bus structure is mainly manufactured out of aluminum alloy, and it is reconfigurable for specific missions. Its propulsion system features a cluster of five thrusters, built by Frontier Aerospace. Each thruster produces 150 lb (667 N) thrust. This propulsion system would propel the trans-lunar injection, trajectory corrections, lunar orbit insertion, and powered descent. The propulsion system is capable of delivering an orbiter to the Moon and then performing a powered soft landing. The lander would carry up to 450 kg (990 lb) of bi-propellant mass in four tanks; its composition is MON-25 /MMH, a hypergolic bi-propellant. For attitude control (orientation), the spacecraft uses twelve thrusters (45 N each) also powered by MON-25/MMH.
The spacecraft's avionics systems incorporate guidance and navigation to the Moon, and a Doppler LiDAR to assist the automated landing on four legs. Its landing ellipse narrowed to 100 m x 100 m starting with Mission 2 from a previous 24 km × 6 km. Peregrine is about 2.5 m wide and 1.9 m tall, and it would be able to deliver up to 265 kg (584 lb) of payload to the surface of the Moon.
Its electrical systems will be powered by a lithium-ion battery that is recharged by a solar panel made of GaInP/GaAs/Ge. Radiators and thermal insulators are used to dispose of excess heat, but the lander does not carry heaters, so the first few Peregrine landers are not expected to survive the lunar night, which lasts 14 Earth days. Future missions could be adapted to do so.
For communications to Earth, the lander uses different frequencies within the X-band range for uplink as well as downlink. Following landing, a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi modem enables wireless communication between the lander and deployed rovers on the lunar surface.
|Agencia Espacial Mexicana|
|Writers on the Moon|
|Artists on the Moon|
|Airbus Defence and Space|
|Carnegie Mellon University|
|ATLAS Space Operations|
|Puli Space Technologies|
|Arch Mission Foundation|
|Pennsylvania State University|
|Kanjirowa National School|
|Future Grind |
|Surrey Satellite Technology|
|United Launch Alliance (ULA)|
|Country||Name||Agency or company|
|USA||Iris (formerly known as Andy)||Carnegie Mellon University|
|Hungary||Team Puli||Puli Space Technologies|
|Country||Name||Agency or company|
|Mexico||?||Mexican space agency|
|USA||Lunar laser||ATLAS Space Operations|
|USA||Terrain Relative Navigation||Astrobotic Technology|
|Canada||STEM payload ||Canadensys|
|UK||state-of-the-art data relay-services||Surrey Satellite Technology|
|USA||AON3D M2+ printer||AON3D|
|Country||Name||Agency or company||Type|
|Hungary||Memory of Mankind on the Moon||Puli Space Technologies||Time capsule|
|Japan||Lunar Dream Time Capsule||Astroscale||Time capsule|
|USA||Lunar Library 2.0||Arch Mission Foundation||Time capsule|
|Germany||DHL MoonBox||DHL||Commercial payload capsules|
|USA||MoonArk||Carnegie Mellon University||Lunar Museum|
|USA||Memorial Space Flight Services||Elysium Space||Memorial capsule|
|USA||Luna 02||Celestis||Memorial capsule|
|Nepal||Everest Summit Rock ||Kanjirowa National School||Art with rock fragment|
|USA||Lunar Seed||Em Vega||Book|
|France||VLC lunar time capsule||VideoLAN||Time capsule|
|USA||altcoin to the Moon||SuperBid.io||cryptocurency|
|USA||Moonshot Museum||Memory Card|
|Country||Name||Agency, company or person|
|USA||Gray Crater 1||SWIRVRO|
|USA||Conrad Moonwalker Drive||The Conrad Foundation|
|USA||HopeMoonshot ||Pennsylvania State University|
|USA||Digital Files ||Future Grind|
|Canada||The Lunar Codex ||Incandence|
|UK||Astro Liz's Lab sticker ||Astro Liz's Lab|
|Belgium||Belgium2theMoon Timecapsule ||Belgium2theMoon|
|UK||Apollo Remastered||Andy Saunders|
|USA||Kennywood Token||Heinz History Center|
|USA||International Library on the Moon||Writers on the Moon|
|Nepal||Nepal Robotics payload||Nepal Robotics Project|
|USA||I Need More Moon||TJ Cooney|
|USA||Moon my name||Ian Sager|
|USA||Consmith Capsule||Matthew Congrove|
|USA||Dogecoin to the Moon||Dogecoin|
|USA||Howdy Bots - FRC #6377|
|USA||Balko Public School|
|USA||Big Brothers Big Sisters of America|
|UK||Into the Red // PRE-SAVE TO THE MOON|
|USA||Ohio PC Solutions|
|Canada||2 the Moon! For Real|
|USA||Civil Air Patrol and Cornell NanoScale Science and Technology Facility|
|USA||The Earthling Project |
|UK||Great Baddow High School|
|Country||Name||Agency or company||Type|
|Ecuador and Colombia||Ecuadorian Civilian Space Agency and the Colombian Space Agency||Satellite technology|
|Country||Name||Agency or company||Type|
|UK||"Asagumo"||Lunar Mission One||instrument|
|Mexico||Mexico Moon rover||Mexican space agency||Microrovers|
The Griffin lander is targeted to land in a region of interest in the south polar region of the Moon in November 2024. The spacecraft is expected to operate for 100 days after its landing. NASA's VIPER will be the main payload on the larger Griffin lander (450 kg). VIPER will investigate permanently shadowed regions of craters located in the moon's south pole, specifically for potential deposits of water ice that could be used as resources for future crewed missions. Other commercial payloads are on board the Griffin lander, including the Lunar Codex's Polaris archive of contemporary culture as one of the commercial sub-payloads of Astrobotics' MoonBox initiative.
Astrobotic has a line of three rovers called Polaris, CubeRover, and MoonRanger.
Astrobotic: Headed by William 'Red' Whittaker of Carnegie Mellon University, the team expects their 'Artemis Lander' and 'Red Rover' spacecraft to touch down first on the moon
Astrobotic: Headed by William 'Red' Whittaker of Carnegie Mellon University, the team expects their 'Artemis Lander' and 'Red Rover' spacecraft to touch down first on the moon.
Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic Technology, a Carnegie Mellon University spin-off company, has signed a launch services contract with Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) for a Falcon 9 launch vehicle to deliver a lander, small rover and up to about 240 lbs of payload to the surface of the Moon
planned to launch in late 2014 or early 2015
Peregrine will tote as many as 14 agency payloads to a big crater on the moon's near side called Lacus Mortis by July 2021, on the lander's Mission One.
Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic Technology, a Carnegie Mellon University spin-off company, has signed a launch services contract with Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) for a Falcon 9 rocket to deliver a lander, small rover and up to about 240 lb of payload to the surface of the Moon