Astrobotic lands $100K NASA award - Center for Technology Transfer and Enterprise Creation - Carnegie Mellon University

Friday, August 12, 2011

Astrobotic lands $100K NASA award

Astrobotic, the Pittsburgh startup with its sights set on the moon, is one of 30 organizations nationwide to receive an initial $100,000 grant by NASA under an agency program to develop new technologies for launching, building and operating space systems.

The Astrobotic award will fund research into exploring lava tubes and caves on the moon and on Mars. The work will also look at “skylights” which are the entrances that lead down to these formations.

This award is the first phase of a potentially two-phase award. The next piece could bring in $500,000 next year to continue the research, the company said in a written statement.

The money is part of the space agency’s NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program. In addition to Astrobotic’s research other organizations are looking at 3-D printing of spacecraft, new propulsion and power concepts, and spacesuits that help astronauts work in microgravity.

“These innovative concepts have the potential to mature into the transformative capabilities NASA needs to improve our current space mission operations, seeding the technology breakthroughs needed for the challenging space missions in NASA’s future,” said NASA chief technologist Bobby Braun in a written statement.

As for Astrobotic, which has close ties to Carnegie Mellon University the company expects to launch its lunar rover to the moon sometime between December 2013 and July 2014.

Astrobotic is also working with NASA to design a lunar mining robot, and has deals to provide the space agency with engineering data and other landing technology related to the company’s moon mission.

Article courtesy of Pittsburgh Business Times