Pittsburgh’s innovation-led economic renaissance continues to capture the attention of influential news outlets. Recently there was Politico’s “What Works,” a year-long series focused on transformative technologies, polices and strategies that chose Pittsburgh for its debut article. This week the emerging-technologies blog GIGAOM made a splash with its story about Strip District-based Astrobotic and its lunar ambitions.
A spinout of Carnegie Mellon University, Astrobotic is capitalizing on the convergence of Pittsburgh’s robotics, tech and engineering acumen in its quest to become the first private company to land on the moon — perhaps as soon as 2015. GIGAOM’s coverage teed up the Feb. 19 announcement that Astrobotic was advancing to the “Accomplishment Round” of the Milestone Prizes offered by the Google Lunar XPRIZE. Of the five teams selected for this round, only Astrobotic and one other qualified for the full $1.75 million.
The Google Lunar XPRIZE is an international incentive based prize that “aims to do something humanity has never accomplished: the safe landing of a private craft on the surface of the moon.” The final prize is estimated to be in the $30 – $40 million range.
Astrobotic CEO John Thornton told GIGAOM that the XPRIZE will “drum up revenue and customers for Astrobotic.” In fact, the prize itself was the catalyst for the company to go into business.
“You can think of us as a FedEx or UPS service to the moon,” said Thornton.
Being the first private company to land on the moon might be “one small step” for Astrobotic, but it will be a giant step in opening up the potential of the moon to become Earth’s next continent and a place for interstellar commerce and tourism.
You can read GIGAOM’s story on Astrobotic here.
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