Press Release

Moon Express Designs and Engineers Lunar Mission with Autodesk Software

By SpaceRef Editor
November 29, 2011
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Moon Express has selected Autodesk software to design its private missions to the Moon; unveils lunar micro-rovers and announces global design competition for lunar mining at Autodesk University

Las Vegas, NV (November 29, 2011) – Moon Express, a Google Lunar X PRIZE contender, announced today that it has selected Autodesk design software to develop commercial lander and robotic systems for lunar exploration.

Taking the main stage before more than 8,000 attendees at Autodesk University 2011, Edwin “EJ” Sabathia of the “Moon Express Robotics Lab for Innovation” (MERLIN) unveiled lunar micro-rovers designed with Autodesk software. EJ was one of eight student robotics engineers hired by Moon Express in September from a team of the nations’ brightest engineering students. MERLIN is utilizing Autodesk design software for developing robotic technology supporting the company’s lunar exploration missions.

“We are extremely pleased to have Autodesk by our side as we reach for the Moon,” said company Founder and CEO Bob Richards. “Apollo was designed by engineers in their twenties that were backed by the time’s world superpowers. Today’s technology allows small teams to tackle complex problems and makes every engineer a superpower.” The engineering team hired by Moon Express was mentored at the NASA Ames Robotics Academy and competed in the FIRST Robotics competition, where they were first introduced to Autodesk design software.

The Moon Express engineers are applying the most innovative 3D design software to the complex task of landing on the Moon. “Autodesk tools are used to help solve some of the world’s daunting design and engineering challenges,” said Autodesk Vice President and CTO Jeff Kowalski. “We are very excited about empowering the creative energy of Moon Express engineers with Autodesk design technology by allowing them to conceptualize and simulate their designs before they are real.”

During the presentation, a mock-up of the Moon Express lander descended dramatically onto the stage in front of a high definition lunar panorama. The company then revealed the design of its twin micro-rovers that will be carried by the lander to the lunar surface in an effort to win the $30M Google Lunar X PRIZE. The micro-rovers, named “ARTHUR” and “ROBERT” after the famous science fiction authors Arthur C. Clarke and Robert A. Heinlein, are two-wheeled multi-purpose designs capable of exploring the lunar surface, capturing stereo HD images and video, and carrying scientific payloads.

Moon Express also announced “The Moon is ME” Lunar Mining Design Competition as a global challenge to design lunar mining tools that the MERLIN rovers can utilize to acquire and transport lunar samples containing valuable metals and minerals. The competition is global and open to students as well as professional designers using Autodesk software. The top designs will be prototyped and demonstrated in a field test competition at Moon Express facilities at the NASA Research Park in Silicon Valley. The winning prize design will be funded by the company for potential test and demonstration on the Moon.

“We are looking for the next generation superpowers out there to help us identify and acquire lunar resources that could benefit life on Earth and our future in space,” said Richards.

For more information about the design competition, visit:

About Moon Express

Selected by Forbes as one of the ’15 Names You Should Know’ in 2011, Moon Express (MoonEx) is a privately funded lunar transportation and data services company based at the NASA Ames Research Park in Silicon Valley. The company plans to send a series of robotic spacecraft to the Moon for ongoing exploration and commercial development focused on benefits to Earth and has signed a partnership agreement with NASA for development of a lunar lander system.

Moon Express was founded in 2010 by Dr. Robert (Bob) Richards, a founder of International Space University, who serves as CEO; Naveen Jain, a philanthropist, entrepreneur and technology pioneer who founded Intelius and InfoSpace and serves as chairman; and Dr. Barney Pell, Chief Architect for Bing Local Search at Microsoft and former NASA manager, who serves as Vice Chairman and Chief Technology Officer. The Moon Express founders also work together as Trustees of Singularity University. Moon Express has been selected by NASA for a lunar data services contract worth up to $10M. It is also one of only three U.S. companies to receive the first $500K delivery order under NASA’s Innovative Lunar Demonstrations Data (ILDD) program.

Moon Express is also a leading contender in the $30M Google Lunar X PRIZE (GLXP) competition, which challenges privately funded teams to place a robot on the Moon’s surface that transmits high definition video, images and data back to Earth from the landing site and from 500 meters away. The GLXP competition runs until 2015.

The Moon Express founders believe in the long term economic potential of the Moon to produce resources essential to humanity’s future on Earth and in space.

For more information, please visit:

Media Contact:
Daven Maharaj
650-646-5356 (M)

SpaceRef staff editor.