Private Firm to Launch Moon Rover

Astrobotic plans to sling robot at moon in 2013
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 9, 2011 9:10 AM CST

Rovers aren’t just NASA’s purview anymore. In what would be a major milestone for the private space industry, Astrobotic Technology says it’s going to land a solar-powered robot on the moon—a feat that would earn the company a $24 million piece of the Google Lunar X Prize. The rover will hitch a ride on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket in December 2013, Discover reports.

The Falcon 9 will sling the robot into lunar orbit for four days. From there it’ll land using technology originally developed by Carnegie Mellon University to guide robot cars. Its eventual goal: to locate the site of the original Apollo 11 landing, and send photographs back to Earth. But don’t get too excited; while Astrobotic's plan looks promising, it was originally supposed to launch in 2010, and that didn’t happen. (More aerospace stories.)

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