A company using technology developed at Carnegie Mellon University plans to put a robotic rover on the moon in 2013.
Astrobotic Technology recently signed a contract with SpaceX, an aerospace company run by Elon Musk, to carry the robot to the moon. Musk is also the chief executive officer of electric car maker Tesla Motors.
The Carnegie spin-off is now the first entrant in the $30 million Google Lunar X-Prize competition to sign a launch contract.
SpaceX, which is based near the city of Hawthorne in southern California, plans to open an office in Chantilly, Va., which is the home of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the cover agency that makes and operates the country’s spy satellites. Chantilly is 25 miles from the nation’s capital.
On Dececmber 8, SpaceX became the first private company to launch a spacecraft into orbit around the Earth and return undamaged.