SpaceX Lands Contract For Commercial Moon Mission

Hawthorne-based SpaceX, the commercial rocket firm run by Elon Musk, has landed a contract to deliver a payload to the moon. According to a Pittsburgh-based aerospace startup, Astrobotic Technology, it has signed a contract with SpaceX to deliver a robotic payload to the moon on the SpaceX Falcon 9. Financial details of that contract were not disclosed. Astrobotic is one of the firms competing in the Google Lunar X Prize, the effort to spur a new, commercial mission to the moon. Astrobotic said it expects a mission to launch as soon as December 2013, to deliver a robotic payload to the moon to search for water and for exploration. Astrobotic is a spinout of Carnegie Mellon University, which is using that university's technology developed for the DARPA Grand Challenge robotic automobile contest to develop a robotic, lunar lander.