NewSpace Interview with Astrobotic

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What Is the Background of Astrobotic’s Top Management?

John Thornton has grown Astrobotic's business of delivering affordable space robotics technology and planetary missions by attracting technology contracts, equity investment, and payload customers. Thornton is coordinating the team and alliance for Peregrine's development and the first mission. At Carnegie Mellon, Thornton led the build of Scarab, a NASA concept robot for lunar drilling, and the first robot to carry a prototype of NASA's RESOLVE payload. He founded Carnegie Mellon's Advanced Composites Lab, a research, training, design, and manufacturing lab specializing in high performance, lightweight composites for robotics.

Dan Hendrickson leads Astrobotic’s business development efforts and payload sales. Prior to Astrobotic, Hendrickson served as the Director of Civil and Commercial Space Systems at the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA). During his time at AIA, Hendrickson was a consensus builder among a council of 50 U.S. space companies to provide the U.S. Government guidance on key space industry interests. Before transitioning to AIA, Hendrickson served as a civilian mission assurance engineer at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on five successful Atlas V launch campaigns.

Sharad Bhaskaran is a space industry veteran and the leader of Astrobotic’s lunar missions. Prior to Astrobotic, he has 25 years of experience at Lockheed Martin (LM) successfully developing and managing payload projects for spaceflight applications, and he led negotiation and testing of more than 30 U.S. payloads onto the Mir Space Station. During his time at LM, Bhaskaran was the Program Manager for the West Coast portfolio, which included the $300 million NASA Ames Research Center Programs & Projects engineering and science services contract and Shuttle operations support contracts at Armstrong Flight Research Facility and White Sands Space Harbor. Bhaskaran supported the International Space Station (ISS) Human Research Facility in various project and leadership roles, contributing to successful launch and operation of the system on ISS. He began his career at LM as a Payload Systems Engineer, where he performed Spacelab payload structural analysis for three integrated racks that flew and operated on Shuttle missions SLS-1 and SLS-2.

Fraser guides the Future Missions and Technology Team, which develops technologies for commercialization and infusion into pending Astrobotic or NASA missions. He has driven technical developments on lunar and robotics products from design to implementation in the field. Kitchell has a B.A in Biology, from Amherst College, an M.S. in Energy Technology from Carnegie Mellon University and is completing a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon on a part-time basis. He has worked at Astrobotic for more than 50 lunar days.

What Is Astrobotic’s Core Product or Service and Its Unique Proposition to Their Market Sector?

Astrobotic seeks to make space accessible to the world and sees the Moon as the first place for humanity to get a foothold beyond Earth. The Moon offers untold opportunities for resource development, scientific investigation, technology demonstration, and exploration advancement. Astrobotic is providing a fundamental, end-to-end payload delivery service that allows organizations around the world to pursue these opportunities at a low-cost. The company can accommodate and deliver a collection of diverse payload types on a single delivery mission to the Moon with its modular spacecraft known as the Peregrine Lunar Lander. Just as shipping services enable numerous industries on Earth, Astrobotic will serve an ecosystem of activity on the Moon from both the public and private sectors by offering payload delivery service.

What Are Astrobotic’s Growth Objectives over the next 5 Years?

Over the next 5 years, Astrobotic will complete two missions to the lunar surface. Each mission will further our goal of making the Moon accessible to the world by bringing more nations, companies and individual payloads to the surface. We already have 6 nations that will touch the Moon for the first time on our first mission with more yet to join.

What Competitive Changes Does Astrobotic’s Envisage Within Key Markets over the next 5 Years?

The first landing on the Moon will forever change the market for lunar delivery. It will remove all doubt that it is possible for a private company to deliver payload and it will show the rich yields of lunar programs from all over the world. This will ignite the lunar delivery market and fuel growth for the next several decades. The next five years will be the turning point for making regular lunar access a reality.

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