OrbitBeyond, Inc.
Key people
Siba Padhi (President)
Jeff Patton
Jon Morse
Michael Kaplan
Abbas Salim
ProductsRobotic lunar landers and rovers

Orbit Beyond, Inc., usually stylized as ORBITBeyond, is an aerospace company that builds technologies for lunar exploration. Its products include configurable delivery lunar landers with a payload capacity of up to 300 kg (660 lb), and rovers.[3]


On November 29, 2018, ORBITBeyond was selected to bid robotic lander contracts from NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS).[4] ORBITBeyond has engaged former Google Lunar XPRIZE competitor TeamIndus (Axiom Research Labs) for lander engineering, Honeybee Robotics for payload integration, Advanced Space for mission management, and Ceres Robotics for surface operations. Their aim is to create collaborative and scalable spacecraft exploration platforms to support commercial market growth in the cislunar space.[5]

On May 31, 2019, NASA announced that it had selected OrbitBeyond as one of three commercial partners to deliver NASA payloads to the Moon with its Z-01 lander in 2020 and 2021. OrbitBeyond was awarded $97 million to land NASA payloads in Mare Imbrium by September 2020.[6][7] However, the company dropped out of this contract in July 2019, citing its inability to complete the missions on schedule.[8] Orbit Beyond remains a CLPS contractor eligible to bid on future contracts.[8]


NASA Selects First Commercial Moon Landing Services for Artemis Program (47974915541).jpg
Models of Z-01 lunar lander and ECA rover, 2019
ManufacturerOrbit Beyond
DesignerAxiom Research Labs
Country of originUS
OperatorCeres Robotics[5]
ApplicationsLunar lander
Spacecraft typeRobotic soft lander
Dry mass210 kg (460 lb)[9]
Payload capacity40 kg (88 lb)
StatusIn development
On order0
Engine details
Maximum thrustone 440 N
sixteen 22 N thrusters
Related spacecraft
Derived fromTeamIndus' HHK1

The company is developing two lunar landers, Z-01 and Z-02,[3] and a small rover called ECA.


Z-01 is based on TeamIndus' lunar lander,[10] previously known as HHK1. On its maiden mission it would carry up to 40 kg of commercial payloads.[11] It features a main engine that produces 440 N, and sixteen 22 N thrusters for finer orbital maneuvers and attitude control (orientation).[12][10] Its first mission was planned to launch in Q3 2020,[11] on a Falcon 9 rocket[10][13] but the CLPS contract was cancelled by Orbit Beyond in July 2019.[8]

The mission was targeting Mare Imbrium (29.52º N 25.68º W[11]) just north of Annegrit crater.[14] The landing ellipse for this mission was approximately 2 km x 1.9 km.[15] The lander features automated hazard avoidance capabilities.[14]

One of the science payloads is the Lunar Ultraviolet Cosmic Imager, an 80 mm aperture telescope that will scan the sky in the near UV frequencies (200–320 nm) to look for transient sources.[16] The telescope has been completed and tested, and as of March 2019, is awaiting integration to the lander.[16]

ECA rover

Z-01 lander would deploy a micro-rover called ECA (Ek Choti si Asha, Hindi for "A Small Hope"),[17] also developed by Team Indus (now called Axiom Research Labs). ECA is a technology demonstrator tasked with visually exploring the vicinity of the landing site to a range of at least 500 m.[15] The vehicle is a solar powered electric 4-wheeled rover, its mass is less than 10 kg (22 lb), and its maximum drive speed is about 6 cm/s.[15] ECA is equipped with a pair of articulated stereo cameras and a Sun sensor. Monitoring and commanding of the rover is done exclusively through a lander relay link.[15] The rover will operate for one lunar day, and is expected to succumb to the long frigid lunar night.[18]


Z-02 is a larger lander concept that would carry up to 500 kg of commercial payloads.[3]

See also


  1. ^ NASA will pay private companies up to $2.6 billion to get the US back to the Moon for the first time in nearly 50 years. Dave Mosher, MSN News. November 2018.
  2. ^ OrbitBeyond Teams with Team Indus, Honeybee Robotics for NASA Lunar Program. Doug Messier, Parabolic Arc. 29 November 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Orbit Beyond, Inc. Accessed: 29 October 2018.
  4. ^ "NASA Announces New Partnerships for Commercial Lunar Payload Delivery Services". NASA. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
  5. ^ a b "OrbitBeyond brings together a consortium for NASA CLPS RFP – OrbitBeyond". www.orbitbeyond.com. Archived from the original on 2019-06-01. Retrieved 2019-06-01.
  6. ^ "NASA Selects First Commercial Moon Landing Services for Artemis". NASA. 31 May 2019.
  7. ^ NASA funds commercial moon landers for science, exploration. Astronomy Now. 2 June 2019.
  8. ^ a b c Private Company Orbit Beyond Drops Out of 2020 NASA Moon-Landing Deal. Mike Wall, Space.com. 30 July 2019.
  9. ^ First private Moon lander heralds new lunar space race. Elizabeth Gibney. Nature, 566, 434-436; 20 February 2019.
  10. ^ a b c Z-01 Lander. Gunter Dirk Krebs, Gunter's Space Page. Accessed on 17 June 2019.
  11. ^ a b c OrbitBeyond - Z-01 Accessed on 17 June 2019.
  12. ^ A look at the TeamIndus spacecraft that will land on the Moon. TeamIndus Blog. December 8, 2017.
  13. ^ NASA picks three companies to send commercial landers to the moon. Stephen Clark, Spaceflight Now. 4 June 2019.
  14. ^ a b TeamIndus Z-01 Moon Mission. TeamIndus. Medium, 22 June 2018.
  15. ^ a b c d "Terrain-based Analysis as a Design and Planning Tool for Operations of a Lunar Exploration Rover for the TeamIndus Lunar Mission." M. S. Menon, A. Kothandhapani, N. S. Sundaram, S. Nagaraj and V. Raghavan. SpaceOps Conferences. June 2018, Marseille, France. doi:10.2514/6.2018-2494
  16. ^ a b Prospect for UV observations from the Moon. III. Assembly and ground calibration of Lunar Ultraviolet Cosmic Imager (LUCI). Mathew, J., Nair, B.G., Safonova, M. et al. Astrophys Space Sci (2019) 364: 53. 29 March 2019. doi:10.1007/s10509-019-3538-8
  17. ^ Brown students team with space exploration company on Moon mission planning. Brown University. February 25, 2019.
  18. ^ Requirement analysis and night survival concept for Z-01 landing mission using fuel cell. Satishchandra C Wani, Udit Shah, Adithya Kothandapani, Prateek Garg, Mrigank Sahai, Mannika Garg, Sunish Nair. Survive the Lunar Night Workshop 2018 (LPI Contrib. No. 2106)