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Fri, Feb 11, 2011

SpaceX Sells First Lunar Mission

Could Fly Robotic Lander To The Moon As Early As 2013

A Pittsburgh-based company which is building a lunar rover has purchased a slot to travel to the moon from SpaceX, and could undertake the mission as early as 2013.

Astrobotic Technology, which was spun off from Carnegie Mellon University, is a contestant for the Google Lunar X Prize. SpaceX founder Elon Musk told Discovery News that the only thing that would be required to fly a Falcon 9 rocket to the moon would be adjustments in the navigational software.

Terms of the deal, which was announced Sunday, were not disclosed. But given the weight of the rover, Falcon 9 could reportedly carry an additional 240 pounds on the mission. Astrobotic Technology is said to be offering that excess capacity on their flight for around $700,000 per pound plus a $250,000 payload integration fee.

Falcon 9 Launch

There are 21 teams competing for $32 million in the Google Lunar X Prize. The winner will land a rover on the moon, travel 1/3 mile on the surface, and transmit high-definition pictures and video back to Earth before December 31, 2015. That accomplishment wins a $20 million check, which drops to $15 million if it is done first by a government agency.



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