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Company Plans Robotic Lunar Mission

Illustration of Astrorobotic's lunar rover (Astrobotic Technology Inc.)

Illustration of Astrorobotic's lunar rover (Astrobotic Technology Inc.)

Astrobotic Technology Inc. in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has signed a contract with spacecraft company SpaceX to launch Astrobotic’s robotic payload to the moon on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The company says the mission could launch as soon as December 2013.

The project is expected to search for water and deliver payloads, with the robot narrating its activities in real time while taking video. The Falcon 9 upper stage will propel Astrobotic’s payload on a four-day mission, which will then orbit the moon to align for landing.

The spacecraft is expected to make a soft landing using technologies developed by Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) for guiding autonomous cars.  The robotic rover will then explore for three months, operating during the lunar days, and hibernating through the lunar nights.

Astrobotic Technology is a CMU spin-off company, founded in 2008. NASA awarded the company a $10 million contract in 2010 for access to the expedition’s engineering data on lunar landing technologies.

Read more: Nanosatellites Launched in SpaceX Falcon Vehicle

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