WASHINGTON, May 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Moon Express, Inc., a provider of commercial and scientific missions to the Moon, announced today that it has acquired Next Giant Leap, LLC of Colorado (NGL). The NGL acquisition by Moon Express will leverage and carry forward the substantial work done by NGL supported by its corporate partners, Sierra Nevada Corp., The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, MIT Space Systems Laboratory, Aurora Flight Services, Jolted Media Group, The Center for Space Entrepreneurship (eSpace) and the Challenger Center for Space Science Education. The announcement was made at the Google Lunar X PRIZE Team Summit taking place this week in Washington, DC.
Both Moon Express and NGL/Draper were selected by NASA in the fall of 2010 for commercial lunar data contracts worth up to $10M each. Moon Express and NGL are also both contenders for the $30M Google Lunar X PRIZE. As the fourth entrant to the competition, NGL engaged a consortium of highly reputable and experienced partners and became one of the most formidable GLXP contenders. With the deep technical prowess and contributions of its partners, together with seed funding from the Colorado-based incubator eSpace, NGL was able to progress to a design solution for a lunar 'hopper' that attracted a $1M R&D commitment from Draper in 2011 to fund its own design and development of a guidance, navigation and control (GN&C) system testbed for use in Next Giant Leap's commercial lunar mission.
The acquisition of Next Giant Leap adds to Moon Express' substantial momentum as the leading contender in the Google Lunar X PRIZE competition. "There are many synergies between our companies," said Moon Express co-Founder and CEO Bob Richards. "We are all stronger together and we look forward to carrying on the innovation and vision of the Next Giant Leap founders and partners."
Michael Joyce, Next Giant Leap founder, president and lifelong space enthusiast, commented that the acquisition by Moon Express is validation of his team's value and testimony to the dedication of the NGL partners. "Next Giant Leap and its partners have made remarkable technical progress," he remarked. "We are proud to be able to offer that value in support of the vision and resources of Moon Express that continue our dreams toward the Moon."
Veteran NASA astronaut turned MIT Professor Dr. Jeffrey Hoffman has contributed to the development of NGL lander test bed at the MIT Space Systems Laboratory. "I've known Bob Richards a long time and he's put together an exceptionally talented team that I am looking forward to working with," he said.
Seamus Tuohy, Space Systems Director at Draper, was instrumental in Draper's $1M R&D commitment to NGL. "A critical component of any lunar landing mission is the GN&C," he said. "Draper has been proud to support Next Giant Leap and looks forward continued work as part of the Moon Express team."