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Satnews Daily
June 25th, 2017

Laser Comms for ATLAS Space Operation's Moon Mission to be Supplied by Astrobotic Technology

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Astrobotic Technology focuses on lunar logistics to deliver payloads to the Moon for companies, governments, universities, non-profits and individuals — the firm recently signed a payload agreement and initiated a partnership with ATLAS Space Operations, Inc., at the Paris Air Show.

This union will result in the delivery and operation of the first laser comms terminal on Astrobotic's upcoming mission to the Moon. This brings the total number of deals in place for Astrobotic’s mission to eleven.

Through this partnership with ATLAS, Astrobotic will now able to offer up to one gigabit per second of data to its customers, an historic, thousand-fold increase of bandwidth for Astrobotic’s lunar mission. The company’s spacecraft accommodates multiple customer payloads on a single flight, offering flexibility at an industry-defining low price of $1.2 million per kilogram. Astrobotic is an official partner with NASA through the Lunar CATALYST program, has 22 prior and ongoing NASA contracts, a commercial partnership with Airbus DS, a corporate sponsorship with DHL, 12 deals for its first mission to the Moon, and 110 customer payloads in the pipeline for upcoming missions.

According to John Thornton, the CEO of Astrobotic, laser communications have been sought after by planetary missions for years.  ATLAS and Astrobotic are now making this capability a reality.  Laser communications on the Moon will expand payload capabilities dramatically, enabling beautiful high definition video, ground breaking data-intensive experiments, and even virtual reality experiences from the Moon. No doubt this is a foundational capability for building the company's future on the Moon,” said Thornton.

Sean McDaniel, CEO of ATLAS, noted that this partnership [between Astrobotic and ATLAS] is a real game changer for lunar communications. To date, communications for lunar missions have had no collaboration or continuity in efforts, meaning each time another mission launches, there needs to be a new communications solution. However, the company's optical communications terminal provides Astrobotic’s customers with a turnkey solution for strong and reliable comms [communications] for the foreseeable future, between lunar missions and Earth.