Astrobotic Technology Introduces New Lunar Lander, Luxembourg Reaches For it All


Two recent news items highlight the slow, but steady progress being made to set the stage for the robotic exploration and utilization of space beyond low Earth orbit.

First, the tiny European nation of Luxembourg, already home to two of the world’s largest ComSat companies, announced a new initiative, called  to promote space mining and resource utilization.

From the website:

“Luxembourg is the first European country to set out a formal legal framework which ensures that private operators working in space can be confident about their rights to the resources they extract, i.e. valuable resources from asteroids. Such a legal framework will be worked out in full consideration of international law. The Grand-Duchy aims to participate with other nations in all relevant fora in order to agree on a mutually beneficial international framework.” 

As part of the initiative, Luxembourg plans to spend an initial $225 million on R&D, as well as taking direct equity stakes in space startups looking for capital. One early taker is Deep Space Industries, which recently announced a partnership to co-fund that company’s Prospector-X nano-satellite.

Luxembourg is working on new legislation to provide a secure legal framework for space resource utilization by private corporations. While similar to the American Space Act which was enacted in 2015, its version is more open in nature, courting investors from around the world. The American version is limited to majority U.S. companies.

One of those American companies, and a leader in the Google Lunar X-Prize contest, is Pittsburgh, Pa. based Astrobotic Technology. Last week, the company unveiled a newly refined and much smaller version of its Griffin lunar lander, named Perigrine, which was unveiled at the Berlin Air Show.

Here is the press release:


JUNE 2, 2016
DHL to Manage Logistics along the Entire Supply Chain,
Airbus Defence and Space to Contribute Engineering Support for Lander Design,
Astrobotic unveils new Peregrine Lunar Lander 

Berlin, Germany – Astrobotic, which is building a service to make the Moon accessible to the world, today announces that DHL and Airbus Defence and Space are supporting Astrobotic to develop its lunar payload delivery service.

Deutsche Post DHL Group, the world’s leading mail and logistics company, will become the “Official Logistics Provider for Astrobotic’s First Mission to the Moon.” DHL will provide logistics services for Astrobotic’s spacecraft and its customer payloads, making sure that all materials for the new lunar lander as well as the ‘space freight’ will arrive safe and on time to begin their journey to the Moon.

“DHL has a proud history of connecting its customers to the world. Moon exploration is also a theme that has a special historical significance for us – DHL was founded in 1969, the year of the first moon landing. Today, we are excited to be embarking upon this incredible venture into the next era of logistics – beyond Earth and to the Moon. Having played a pioneering role in logistics for many years, we are looking forward to partnering with Astrobotic to open a new frontier in space, and to further developing lunar logistics in the future,” said Arjan Sissing, Senior Vice President, Global Brand Marketing, Deutsche Post DHL Group.

Airbus Defence and Space, the world’s second largest space company, will contribute initial engineering support to Astrobotic through a Memorandum of Understanding, as the company advances its lunar lander design to a preliminary design review. Airbus Defence and Space brings world-class spacecraft experience in human spaceflight and exploration and leverages previous lander development work with the European Space Agency.

“Airbus Defence and Space clearly regards Astrobotic as the front runner in commercial lunar transportation services. With our signed Memorandum of Understanding we have now the opportunity to assess options to further strengthen this cooperation and to become a true partner in the global endeavor to provide a commercial gateway to the moon”, remarked Bart Reijnen, Senior Vice President of On-Orbit Services & Exploration.

Together, this team will advance the technical maturity of the new “Peregrine” Lunar Lander towards the next big development milestone. Peregrine builds on eight years of Astrobotic lunar lander development, and will carry Astrobotic’s first delivery of payloads to the lunar surface. Peregrine will fly as a secondary payload on its first mission, with the ability to fly Astrobotic’s future missions thereafter. Peregrine offers mission flexibility with a 35 to 265 kilogram payload capacity. This enables secondary flights on several different launch vehicles. The lander will be powered with an Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion system featuring next generation space engine technology.

These announced partnerships build on an already existing Astrobotic relationship with NASA, through the Lunar CATALYST Program. NASA Lunar CATALYST provides Astrobotic access to some of the best spacecraft engineers and facilities in the world, as part of NASA’s effort to encourage the development of U.S. commercial robotic lunar lander capabilities.

“Today’s announcement marks a new era in commercial lunar activity. With Airbus Defence and Space, DHL, Aerojet Rocketdyne, and NASA, Astrobotic has built a team of legends. Make no mistake that Astrobotic has built a world-class team to make the Moon accessible to the world with the Peregrine Lander,” stated John Thornton, CEO of Astrobotic.

Perigrine Credit: Astrobotic Technology

Credit: Astrobotic Technology

Posted in: Asteroids, Moon

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1 Comment on "Astrobotic Technology Introduces New Lunar Lander, Luxembourg Reaches For it All"

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  1. Dave Huntsman says:

    Everyone keeps pointing to the $200m number as if that will be direct government spending in this space sector; but the only specific I’ve seen, from anywhere, is that it is, in reality, a ‘line of credit’ – to be used at Luxembourg banks, I assume? – to whom, for specifically what, on what repayment terms?

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