Google X Prize Competitor Odyssey Moon Teams Up with NASA to Build Lunar Lander

Lunar Lander Prototype – The Odyssey Moon “M-1” lunar lander will be adapted from the Common Spacecraft Bus developed at the NASA Ames Research Center. Pictured above is the Hover Test Vehicle used for ground testing. (Photo courtesy NASA and OMV)


Cape Canaveral, FL – Odyssey Moon Ventures LLC, a U.S. company developing commercial systems for lunar exploration, announced today that it has partnered with NASA for the development of a robotic lunar lander. The unique public-private partnership will combine NASA expertise with innovative approaches to commercial space systems, resulting in new industrial capabilities for the company and benefits to the American space program.

The partnership was established through a Reimbursable Space Act Agreement signed with the NASA Ames Research Center on October 30th, 2008. Under the terms of the agreement, NASA will provide technical data and engineering support to Odyssey Moon Ventures in support of the company’s efforts to develop its “MoonOne” (M-1) robotic lunar lander, which will have the capabilities of delivering payloads to the surface of the Moon in support of science, exploration and commerce. In return, Odyssey Moon Ventures will reimburse NASA Ames for the cost of providing the technical support and will share its technical data from its engineering tests and actual lunar missions with NASA.

“The prospect for commercial delivery of NASA science and exploration instruments to the Moon is consistent with the precedents already set by the NASA COTS program supporting commercial supply for orbital operations,” said NASA Ames Research Center Director S. Pete Worden. “Extending commercial supplier concepts and relationships to advance NASA’s mandates for exploration and permanent operations on the Moon is a logical next step.”

Lunar Lander Prototype – Odyssey Moon’s “MoonOne” lunar lander will be adapted from a small spacecraft system under development at NASA Ames called the Common Spacecraft Bus, which uses an innovative modular design adaptable to a variety of mission configurations as either an orbiter or a lander. Under the partnering agreement, NASA will share technical data and provide engineering support to Odyssey Moon Ventures. NASA also will share data from the Hover Test Vehicle, an engineering prototype of the Common Spacecraft Bus developed at Ames to evaluate hardware and software systems through rapid prototyping and ground-based testing.

Earlier this year, veteran space executive Jay Honeycutt was announced as President of Odyssey Moon Ventures, responsible for all U.S. operations and programs. “I am extremely pleased and excited to be working on getting us back to the Moon in a sustainable way,” said Jay Honeycutt. “I believe the private sector has an important role to play in a permanent and affordable lunar program. We look forward to working with NASA as both partners and customers in this effort.” Honeycutt has over 40 years of space program experience, including Director of the NASA Kennedy Space Center and President of Lockheed Martin Space Operations.

Odyssey Moon Ventures will focus on the commercialization of the NASA technology to develop a series of robotic missions to the Moon during the International Lunar Decade. It’s initial “MoonOne” (M-1) lunar lander will utilize the innovative modular design of the Common Spacecraft Bus in its efforts to provide low cost, frequent and affordable access to the Moon for private, academic and government customers.

“NASA Ames Research Center is developing a number of small lunar mission concepts supporting the U.S. Space Exploration Program,” said Worden. “We are interested in the prospect of utilizing additional payload capacity on Odyssey Moon Commercial Missions of Opportunity to advance our science and technology goals.”

Odyssey Moon has already signed on two commercial organizations for the mission, and the company has since received proposals for payloads from customers worldwide. “We are thrilled with the response to our MoonOne Commercial Mission of Opportunity,” said Odyssey Moon Founder and CEO Dr. Robert (Bob) Richards. “The tremendous response from both the private sector and government agencies proves that a new value added paradigm is possible with private sector involvement in space exploration”.