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The Lunar CATALYST (Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown) initiative is an attempt by NASA to encourage the development of robotic lunar landers that can be integrated with United States commercial launch capabilities to deliver payloads to the lunar surface.[1]

NASA aims to build on its partnerships with the U.S. commercial space industry that are developing new spacecraft and rockets capable of delivering cargo and soon, astronauts) to low Earth orbit. Recognizing United States industry's interest in reaching and exploring the Moon, the Agency has competitively selected three partners to spur commercial cargo transportation capabilities to the surface of the Moon.

The hope is commercial robotic lunar lander capabilities will address emerging demand by private customers who wish to conduct activities on the Moon and could also enable new science and exploration missions of interest to the larger scientific and academic communities.

Currently the Lunar CATALYST initiative has signed three no-funds-exchanged Space Act Agreement (SAA) partnerships with U.S. private sector entities.[1][2]

Initiative overviewEdit

Lunar CATALYST is operated under the Advanced Exploration Systems Division of NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. The three companies Astrobotic Technology, Masten Space Systems and Moon Express are being offered SAA but will not receiving any funds.[1] They will negotiate with the space agency for a partnership to exchange technical expertise and help promote the private space sector.[3]


Astrobotic TechnologyEdit

Main article: Astrobotic Technology

Astrobotic Technologies of Pittsburgh, Pa. is believed to have bid the 260 kg payload Griffin Lander. Astrobotics has signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA containing 20 Milestones supporting two demonstration missions, the second of which has enhanced navigation and hazard avoidance performance, ending in July 2017.[4] As of July 2015 Astrobotic has developed a preliminary version of its flight software for precision guidance. Testing in simulation validated the Griffin lander’s ability to autonomously guide itself to a precise touchdown near the Lacus Mortis pit.[5]As of November 2015 an end-to-end mission simulation has been completed. The CDR (Critical Design Review) is expected in June 2016.[6]

Masten Space SystemsEdit

Main article: Masten Space Systems

Masten Space Systems Inc. of Mojave, Calif. is believed to have bid both the XEUS lander and the smaller XL-1 lander. XEUS comes in two versions. The expendable version can land about 13 tonnes, where as the reusable version can land 5 tonne. As of May 2015 Masten has signed an unfunded Space Act Agreement with NASA containing 22 Milestones to demonstrate the hardware and software for a commercial lunar lander, ending in August 2017.[7] As of November 2015 the propulsion system PDR (Preliminary Design Review) completed.[6]

Moon ExpressEdit

Main article: Moon Express

Moon Express Inc., of Moffett Field, Calif. is believed to have bid the MX-1 lander family.[2] In early 2015 Moon Express test flew a tethered prototype lander at the Morpheus Lander test area at NASA's Kennedy Space Center as part of its entry in the Google XPRIZE. The operational spacecraft is designed to be launched as a secondary payload and to fly to the Moon from GEO.[8][9] As of 22 January 2015 (2015 -01-22) Lunar Express has signed a 5-year agreement with Space Florida to perform lunar lander development and flight test operations at Space Launch Complex 36 (SLC-36), Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Brevard County, Florida.[10]

As of 10 March 2015 (2015 -03-10) Lunar Express hopes to soft land on the Moon in 2016. The MX-1 will exit Low Earth Orbit using its hydrogen peroxide engine. Later missions plan to bring back to Earth minerals, Moon rocks and precious metals.[9] The unfunded Space Act Agreement (SAA) with NASA contains 16 milestones ending in March 2017.[11] As of November 2015 the lander's tether test has been completed.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "NASA TechPort -- Lunar CATALYST Project". National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Retrieved 19 November 2015. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "About Lunar CATALYST". NASA.GOV. NASA. Retrieved October 31, 2015. 
  3. David Szondy (May 1, 2014). "NASA announces partners for lunar lander program". GIZMAD.COM. Gizmag Pty Ltd (Gizmag). Retrieved May 4, 2014. 
  4. Astrobotic Technology Inc, NASA. "Space Act Agreement between Astrobotic Technologies and NASA for Lunar CATALYST". Retrieved May 24, 2015. 
  5. Template:Cite news
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Jason Crusan. "HEOMD's Advanced Exploration Systems - Status Update". NASA. pp. 14, 26. Retrieved November 15, 2015. 
  7. Masten Space Systems, NASA. "Space Act Agreement between NASA and Masten Space Systems for Lunar CATALYST". Retrieved May 24, 2015. 
  8. Template:Cite news
  9. 9.0 9.1 Template:Cite news
  10. Template:Cite news
  11. Moon Express Inc, NASA. "Space Act Agreement between Moon Express Inc and NASA for Lunar CATALYST". Retrieved May 24, 2015. 

External linksEdit

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