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Celestis Is Planning Their Second Memorial Spaceflight to the Moon

June 30, 2015

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Celestis Is Planning Their Second Memorial Spaceflight to the Moon

Article originally appeared on The Celestis Blog

Lovers meeting in the moonlight, kids gazing at the Moon through their telescopes, dreamers wishing they could visit Earth’s closest astronomical companion, aerospace professionals who have helped astronauts actually visit the Moon … All appreciate the personal, cultural and historic significance the Moon has for people everywhere.  Celestis makes it possible for everyone to fulfill the dream of lunar travel with our Luna Service missions.

Our second Luna Service memorial spaceflight will be provided by one of the following two teams that are competing in the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE to be the first company to land a privately funded robot on the Moon.  As you’ll see, both companies are quite active, and in fact are leading competitors in the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition.

In February 2014 Astrobotic Technology (“Astrobotic,” Pittsburgh, PA) and its Japanese XPRIZE competitor Hakuto announced that they will jointly fly robot rovers to the Moon on Astrobotic’s Griffin lander. Once on the Moon the two companies’ rovers will compete in a NASCAR-style race to win part of the Google Lunar XPRIZE. The winning rover must stream HD video to Earth and travel at least 500 meters (1,640 feet) over the lunar surface. Astrobotic is interested in landing its Griffin lander near where scientists believe lunar caves may be located for possible exploration by the rovers.

Astrobotic continues to make news in 2015:

  • In January Astrobotic received a $1.75 million Google Lunar XPRIZE Milestone Prize award for the company’s successful completion of imagery, landing and mobility technology tests.
  • In April NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program selected Astrobotic to test the navigation technology that will guide Astrobotic’s first commercial soft landing on the Moon.
  • In May NASA awarded Astrobotic a $375,000 contract to develop sensing and navigation technologies to expand capability for resource exploration on and under the surface of the Moon, Mars, and other planetary bodies.
  • In June Astrobotic announced that it will fly a payload for the Mexican Space Agency (AEM) to the Moon.

Moon Express (“MoonEx,” Mountain View, CA) is a privately funded commercial space company that has developed the “MX”-family of scalable single stage spacecraft/landers capable of reaching the lunar surface from Earth orbit. In May 2015 MoonEx announced a multi-mission payload agreement with The National Laboratories of Frascati (INFN-LNF) Italy and the University of Maryland to deliver a new generation of lunar laser ranging arrays to the Moon. The arrays will work with the arrays left on the Moon by the Apollo astronauts to test principles of Einstein’s General Relativity theory, add to international scientific knowledge of the Moon, and increase lunar mapping precision that will support the company’s future lander missions. MoonEx began flight-testing of its MTV-1 lander test vehicle at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in December 2014 at the “Moonscape” test range located at the north end of the Shuttle Landing Facility. After MoonEx successfully completed a series of initial flights, the Google Lunar XPRIZE awarded $1 million to the company, which has continued its KSC tests into 2015.