Astrobotic Technology and Raytheon Collaborate to Pursue Google Lunar X Prize
[Astrobotic Press Release - 10.12.2007]
Astrobotic Technology, Inc. has selected Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) as its supplier for development of a next-generation of high-precision, propellant-efficient lunar landing technologies.
On Sept. 13, 2007, Dr. William L. “Red” Whittaker, Astrobotic’s Chief Technology Officer and Lunar Mission Commander declared his intention to pursue the recently announced Google Lunar X Prize. Astrobotic Technology, Inc. is the commercial organization through which Dr. Whittaker plans to carry out the lunar mission as well as engage in potential commercial orbital transfer services and potential cis-lunar services that may be best enabled by leading-edge robotics.
“We have great confidence in Raytheon’s ability to co-develop a spacecraft that can land on a dime,” said Whittaker.
Raytheon has undertaken initial design and planning activities on the project.
Possible roles for Raytheon include engineering management, lander design, and high bandwidth telecommunications. A common goal is for Raytheon to develop key technologies for advanced thrust controlled descent, ascent and movement, including automated topographic scene matching.
“We are delighted to work with Dr. Whittaker on this extraordinary lunar project,” said Mike Booen, Raytheon vice president of Advanced Missile Defense & Directed Energy. “Development of a lunar lander is a natural extension for the company’s space-proven technologies.”
Astrobotic is planning for Raytheon to begin work on a contract basis with the scope of Raytheon’s work to be expanded upon completion of certain financing goals by Astrobotic. It is anticipated that 15 or more professional engineers from Raytheon will be devoted to the Astrobotic lunar program.
Dr. Whittaker is the Fredkin Professor of Robotics, Director of the Field Robotics Center, and founder of the National Robotics Engineering Consortium, all at Carnegie Mellon University. He is a world-famous scientist and engineer, renowned for managing the research, development, operation, and scientific discoveries associated with several dozen exploratory robots. Most recently, Dr. Whittaker led CMU’s “Tartan Racing Team” to victory in the November 2007 Urban Challenge sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Raytheon has a legacy of experience in space missions that dates back to the Apollo era, when Raytheon provided solutions for the Saturn launch vehicle, lunar modules, and space suits. Raytheon has deployed more than 100 unique control systems for military and commercial satellites as well as 75 GPS systems for the Department of Defense, civil, commercial and national markets ranging in scope from navigation, transportation, surveying and rescue operations.
Raytheon Company, with 2006 sales of $20.3 billion, is a technology leader specializing in defense, homeland security and other government markets throughout the world. With a history of innovation spanning 85 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration and other capabilities in the areas of sensing; effects; and command, control, communications and intelligence systems, as well as a broad range of mission support services. With headquarters in Waltham, Mass., Raytheon employs 73,000 people worldwide.
Astrobotic Technology, Inc. is a privately held seed-stage company formed by Carnegie Mellon University professor William “Red” Whittaker and his colleagues in November, 2007.