Astrobotic Technology has made an agreement with SpaceX to launch a robotic payload through Falcon 9 to the Moon. This four-day trip to the Moon will enable the robot to investigate the presence of water, supply payloads and also send a three dimensional expedition video back to the Earth. The robotic payload is expected to be launched before December 2013.
The upper stage of Falcon 9 will release the Astrobotic robot on an expedition to the Moon. The robotic spacecraft will then circumnavigate the moon to line up for landing. By means of innovative technologies developed by Carnegie Mellon University for directing robotic cars, the Astrobotic will safely and accurately land on the Moon. The robot will remain on the Moon for three months. It will work incessantly during the lunar days and will lie dormant during the lunar nights. The payload operations will be continued by the rover with substantial levels of power and communications.
Dr. William "Red" Whittaker, Chairman of Astrobotic Technology and Founder of the University's Field Robotics Center, has stated that Astrobotic’s expeditions will look for new reserves, offer vivid experiences and will lead to the emergence of new market segments. He added that agreements, incentives and the Google Lunar X-Prize have further encouraged their mission.
David Gump, President of Astrobotic Technology, has mentioned that their robotic spacecraft will unravel the economic and technical resources of the Moon, which were undetermined by Apollo spacecrafts. He added that they have received $24 million Google's Lunar X-Prize, $10 million worth of NASA's landing contract and Florida's $2 million launch bonus. He mentioned that their preliminary mission will focus on supplying 240 pounds of payload for corporate promoters and space agencies.
The mission has received support from industrial collaborators like International Rectifier Corporation as well as corporate supporters like Caterpillar and ANSYS.