Astrobotic Technology has completed its $2.5 million seed funding round for the Griffin Lander, propelling it farther in its attempt to get the $20 million grand prize from the Google Lunar XPRIZE (GLXP).
Astrobotic was originally founded by William Whittaker at the Carnegie Mellon University in 2007 to compete at the GLXP. It went in with 16 other international companies vying to be the first privately funded organization to land on the moon, move 500 meters, and transmit high resolution images and videos to Earth.
Under the command of CEO John Thornton, Astrobotic is currently the frontrunner for the contest and is the only team to win all three milestones at the GLXP, amounting to $1.75 million in cash prize.
Space Angels Network, a global angel investment firm specifically catering to private aerospace businesses, partnered up with the Silicon Valley Space Business Roundtable (SVSBR) in 2011 to support aerospace‐related ventures and have been backing Astrobotic since.
Astrobotic plans to accommodate pretty much any shipments from pretty much anyone to the moon, much like a commercial cargo plane—for $1.2 million per kilogram.
“Astrobotic Technology flies hardware systems into space for companies, governments, and universities. By accommodating multiple customers on a single flight, Astrobotic offers unprecedented flexibility at an industry-defining low price,” their website says.
We offer space agencies all over the world unprecedented, affordable access to the Moon.
They are even shipping rovers from two of their competitors: AngelicvM’s “Uni” (Chile), and HAKUTO’s “Moonraker” and “Tetris” (Japan). While this means helping out the competition, it also means these two companies are conceding to Astrobotic on the descent and landing entry, leaving them with only the roving, imaging and communication category to compete against each other.
“We offer space agencies all over the world unprecedented, affordable access to the Moon to achieve their science, exploration and resource goals,” Thornton says.
Astrobotic has also accepted personal, sentimental items for shipment: Cremated human remains, personal mementos, messages from children around the world, and even a time capsule
“While this is a smaller part of our long-term business, it remains important for us to enable that human connection,” Thornton adds.