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CMU spin-off to partner with NASA on lunar lander project

| Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 6:59 p.m.

A Carnegie Mellon University spin-off company that wants to send a robotic lander to the moon has a new partner — NASA.

Astrobotic Technology Inc., based in the Strip District, was among three companies the space agency chose on Wednesday for partnership agreements intended to advance lunar landing capabilities to support sending commercial payloads to the surface of the moon.

The agreements with Astrobotic, Masten Space Systems and Moon Express Inc., both based in California, are part of NASA's lunar CATALYST program. NASA will negotiate agreements with the companies to share technical expertise, agency testing facilities, equipment and software with the companies during the next three years. Astrobotic has proposed to develop a commercially viable lunar cargo delivery system.

“Moon landing once symbolized the pinnacle of human achievement,” said William “Red” Whittaker, Astrobotic's chairman. “CATALYST now evolves that to enterprise and to the remarkable capability that is possible through this public-private partnership. CATALYST will build a bright future combining a mix of new resourcefulness with legacy and innovation.”

Astrobotic has a tentative October 2015 launch date to send a robot to the moon. It would travel along the surface and transmit a video signal to Earth to claim the Google Lunar XPrize.

Debra Erdley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7996 or derdley@tribweb.com.

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