New Space and Tech

Astrobotic Technology and Innovate Our World Offer Student Payload Opportunities

By Keith Cowing
April 8, 2013
Filed under , , , , , ,

Innovate Our World, a Maryland educational nonprofit, has partnered with a leading Google Lunar X prize competitor, Astrobotic Technology of Pittsburgh, PA, to help student teams from two central Maryland high schools design payload concepts suitable for Astrobotic’s planned 2013 Tranquility Trek mission to the Apollo 11 landing site. Using information about the lunar environment, previous missions to the Moon, basics of conceptual payload design, and local experts, students from Glenelg Country School in Ellicott City, Maryland and Oakland Mills High School in Columbia, Maryland proposed and designed two lunar payloads and will present their concepts to Astrobotic Technology on Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 1 p.m.
The Apollo Rediscovery Mission(TM) (ARM), which is based on Astrobotic’s planned lunar visit, provides an integrative and participatory learning environment for high school students interested in space exploration. Students spend the first half of the school year learning about the lunar environment, science, and past missions, exposing them to STEM subject matter as well as history, economics, and politics of space exploration. During the second half of the school year, students use the previously gained knowledge and form project teams to select and design a payload concept that can operate on the lunar surface. “The Astrobotic Technology objective of flying its first mission to the site of the Apollo 11 landing was a perfect vehicle to integrate the latest knowledge in science, technology, and engineering fields with important space exploration history for our students. Working with an actual company planning a near-term lunar mission will be very inspiring for our students,” said Ron McCandless, Director, STEM Programs at Innovate Our World, Inc.

Astrobotic Technology, a Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) spin-off company, plans to revisit the Apollo 11 site in December 2013 with a five-foot tall, 160-lb. robot broadcasting 3D high-definition video. The mission will carry both lander and rover payloads to the Moon and convey the experience to the world via Internet video access. Astrobotic Technology provides mission and payload specifications, participates in design reviews, and answers technical questions for the ARM student teams. The student team presentation event will be hosted at the Astrobotic Technology facility near Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. “The expedition team hopes some of the ARM students will be energized to make space technology and lunar development a focus of their careers,” said David Gump, president of Astrobotic Technology. “We’d be thrilled if they found sponsors to pay for actually delivering their payloads to the lunar surface.”

Educators, students, and interested parties are encouraged to attend the student presentation to learn about Astrobotic Technology, IOW, and ARM. If interested in attending, please contact Ron McCandless at for details.

Contribution from the Universities Space Research Association (USRA), American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Mid-Atlantic Section, and the Maryland Space Business Roundtable enabled participation of the two Howard County Maryland schools at no additional cost to the schools. About Innovate Our World (IOW):

A recently established educational nonprofit, Innovate Our World seeks to inspire students to solve complex problems through integrative learning and approaches. Integrating science, technology, mathematics with history, politics, communications, marketing, arts, and project management, IOW provides students with knowledge, tools, and approaches to tackle difficult problems as they enter college and advance throughout their careers. Information about IOW and its projects is available at

About Astrobotic Technology:

A spin-off from Carnegie Mellon University founded in 2008, Astrobotic Technology sells data, delivers payloads, and performs services on the Moon for space agencies, companies, foundation-backed researchers, and the media/marketing industries. Its robotic expeditions start with an equatorial exploration of an Apollo site, claiming the Google Lunar X Prize and collecting data for space agencies. Subsequent expeditions will prospect for volatiles at the poles and excavate these resources so they can refuel spacecraft for return flights to Earth. It has completed two research contracts for NASA on robotic lunar construction and mining technology, and is working on a third contract for simulating the Moon’s one-sixth gravity on Earth with a portable apparatus. More information is available at

Media contact:

Ronald S. McCandless, STEM Director; 443-326-5431; rmccandless(at)innovateourworld(dot)org

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.