About Astrobotic

Affordable space robotic technology and planetary missions

The Vision

We make high-capability space missions practical for a broad spectrum of business, scientific, and social applications.

We believe in the elegant, pragmatic use of robotics to drive down cost, improve capability, and increase reliability.

We will empower a thriving human space presence that explores the world beyond Earth orbit.

The Company

Astrobotic Technology, Inc. is a space robotics company that seeks to make space accessible to the world. The company’s line of lunar landers and rovers deliver payloads to the Moon for companies, governments, universities, non-profits, and individuals.

The company is also developing advanced space robotics capabilities such as terrain relative navigation, mobile robotics for lunar surface operations, and reliable computing systems for mission-critical applications.

Originally spun out of Carnegie Mellon University in 2007 by William “Red” Whittaker, Astrobotic is pioneering affordable planetary access that promises to spark a new era of exploration, science, tourism, resource utilization, and mining. Astrobotic is based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The Team

John Thornton portrait

John Thornton

Chief Executive Officer

John Thornton has grown Astrobotic's business of delivering affordable space robotics technology and planetary missions by attracting technology contracts, equity investment, and payload customers. Under his leadership, the company has booked three lunar missions with its Peregrine, Griffin, and MoonRanger spacecraft. At Carnegie Mellon University, Thornton led the build of Scarab, a NASA concept rover for lunar drilling, and the first rover to carry a prototype of the NASA RESOLVE payload that will now be flying to the lunar south pole on the NASA VIPER rover aboard Astrobotic’s Griffin lander. Thornton also founded the Carnegie Mellon University Advanced Composites Lab, a research, training, design, and manufacturing program specializing in high performance, lightweight composites for robotics.

Dan hendrickson

Dan Hendrickson

Vice President
Business Development

Dan Hendrickson leads Astrobotic’s business development efforts and payload sales. Prior to Astrobotic, Hendrickson served as the Director of Civil and Commercial Space Systems at the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA). During his time at AIA, Hendrickson was a consensus builder among a council of 50 U.S. space companies to provide the U.S. Government guidance on key space industry interests. Before transitioning to AIA, Hendrickson served as a civilian mission assurance engineer at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on five successful Atlas V launch campaigns.

Sharad bhaskaran

Sharad Bhaskaran

Mission Director

Sharad Bhaskaran is a space industry veteran. He serves as the head of Astrobotic’s Planetary Lander Department and is leading Astrobotic Mission 1. Prior to Astrobotic, he has 25 years of experience at Lockheed Martin (LM) successfully developing and managing payload projects for spaceflight applications, and he led negotiation and testing of more than 30 U.S. payloads onto the Mir Space Station. During his time at LM, Bhaskaran was the Program Manager for the West Coast portfolio, which included the $300 million NASA Ames Research Center Programs & Projects engineering and science services contract and Shuttle operations support contracts at Armstrong Flight Research Facility and White Sands Space Harbor. Bhaskaran supported the International Space Station (ISS) Human Research Facility in various project and leadership roles, contributing to successful launch and operation of the system on ISS. He began his career at LM as a Payload Systems Engineer, where he performed Spacelab payload structural analysis for three integrated racks that flew and operated on Shuttle missions SLS-1 and SLS-2.

Daniel gillies

Daniel Gillies

Mission Director

Daniel Gillies leads Mission 3 at Astrobotic, where he is applying his combined experience in spacecraft, launch, program management, and mission operations. Gillies started his career at the NASA Johnson Space Center, where he served as a flight controller (STS-116 to STS-123) with United Space Alliance and Space Shuttle MER Mechanical Support (STS-124 to STS-135) with Boeing. After the Shuttle program, Gillies held roles in design and manufacturing engineering for the Boeing CH-47 and 787. He also supported launch for spacecraft ranging from CubeSats to Dragon as a Mission Manager at SpaceX and Mission Director at Spaceflight and Rocket Lab. Most recently, Gillies was a Mission Director in the airborne flight crew for NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, where he participated in over 20 flight missions. Gillies holds a B.S. in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from Purdue University and an M.S. in Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle. Outside of Space, Gillies is an avid naturalist, and is pursuing continued education in Wildlife Science at Oregon State University.

Michael provenzano

Michael Provenzano

Director of Planetary Mobility

Michael Provenzano is responsible for leading the development of Astrobotic’s planetary rover product lines and generating mobile payload sales. He leads a team of engineers who are developing the world’s first and smallest commercial lunar rover, the CubeRover. Provenzano is also leading the development of Astrobotic’s medium and large lunar rovers, MoonRanger and Polaris. A recognized entrepreneur formerly selected as a Forbes’ Top 100 Global MBA, Provenzano specializes in making early technologies marketable. He has a history managing complex technical projects, including work on the Boeing Space Launch System and leading the development of an NSF-funded I-Corps Site Team at Carnegie Mellon University researching electromagnetic transportation from the lunar surface.

Andrew horchler

Andrew Horchler, Ph.D.

Principal Research Scientist
Future Missions and Technology

Andrew Horchler is Principal Research Scientist and leads the development of robotics hardware and software for space applications that push the boundaries of what is possible in space. He serves as Principal Investigator on R&D contracts, including a NASA contract to develop a visual terrain relative navigation sensor for precision landing that will fly on Astrobotic’s first lunar mission. Horchler has fielded more than a dozen mobile robot platforms over the past 20 years and has published over 60 papers, proceedings, and patents. His robots have been tested on simulated lunar regolith at NASA’s SLOPE laboratory, on tortuous rubble piles and desert terrain for NASA and NIST field tests, and have flown in caves and icy lava tubes. As Technical Lead for Case Western Reserve’s successful DARPA Urban Challenge self-driving car team, he led the creation and testing of driving behaviors and developed real time trajectory planning and mapping algorithms. Horchler also made significant contributions in climbing robotics, biologically inspired design and control, soft robotics, and developed computational neuroscience approaches for sensor fusion under an Air Force Research Laboratory fellowship. He is also the inventor of Mini-Whegs, a series of small, highly mobile, and inexpensive robots. Horchler holds a Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve and a B.S.E. from Princeton, both in Mechanical Engineering.

Ander solorzano

Ander A. Solorzano

Systems Engineer

Ander Solorzano is the Lead Systems Engineer for Astrobotic's lunar landers. Solorzano leads technical development from concept through design and product realization, including the coordination of multiple subsystem activities and integration challenges needed to address mission and payload needs. With a background in mobile robotics development, space robotics development, and control theory, Solorzano develops and researches new technologies that improve space and autonomous robotics applications. For example, he has developed autonomous robot technologies that paint the field lines of soccer fields without the assistance of humans or the use of GPS-based technologies. He has also led several teams in the AUVSI's Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition and assisted in the development of several tele-operated robots. Solorzano holds an M.S. degree in Robotics Systems Development from Carnegie Mellon University and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

Jeff hopkins

Jeff Hopkins

Chief Engineer

Jeff Hopkins is the Chief Engineer of Planetary Landers at Astrobotic. He serves as a technical lead on lander programs and works across subsystems to ensure technical excellence and the safe delivery of NASA and commercial payloads to the lunar surface. Hopkins has over 20 years of wide-ranging industry experience. He started his career developing commercial anti-virus and security software. He later transitioned to a role researching in-space propulsion and space systems engineering at Penn State University, where he focused on RF and microwave electro-thermal thrusters and maturing that technology for a space demonstration. Hopkins also spent time at the Naval Nuclear Laboratory, where he worked as both a test systems engineer in the Thermal Hydraulics Lab and on improving training aids and programs for students enlisted at the Naval Nuclear Training School in Charleston, SC. In his free time, Hopkins serves as an Adjunct Instructor of Engineering at Robert Morris University in Moon, PA. Hopkins holds a Masters Degree in Aerospace Engineering from Penn State University with a specialization in Systems Engineering and Electric Propulsion.

Theresa klein

Theresa Klein

Senior GNC Engineer

As the Lead Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GNC) Engineer for Astrobotic’s lunar landers, Theresa Klein focuses primarily on flight software and simulation development. Before she joined the Astrobotic team, she was a Senior GNC Engineer at Orbital Sciences Corporation, where she supported Cygnus spacecraft GNC subsystem development, testing, and on-orbit operations. Klein developed GNC simulation models and mission simulation test software, performed mission simulation testing of the integrated spacecraft, and performed mission operations. Klein completed her doctoral research at the University of Arizona Robotics and Neural Systems Lab. Her research included designing and building robots based on principles of human and animal biomechanics and neurobiology.

Board of Directors

Red whittaker

William "Red" Whittaker

Chairman and Chief Science Officer

Red Whittaker has developed dozens of successful systems in field robotics, space exploration, autonomous vehicles, mining, and agriculture. Whittaker has also led successful consortia and companies. He developed CMU's National Robotics Engineering Center from modest NASA seed funding; collaborated with Caterpillar to automate their entire product fleet and develop 11 patents on autonomous mining and excavating; and founded RedZone Robotics on government seed funding for nuclear cleanup. Whittaker won the DARPA Urban Challenge and spun out the resulting technology through a partnership with General Motors.

Paul o brien

Paul C. O'Brien

Paul C. O'Brien is the former CEO and chairman of the board of New England Telephone after having served as executive vice president at New York Telephone. Earlier in his career, he worked for GE and served in the US Air Force. O'Brien currently sits on a variety of boards of both private and public companies. He holds a BS in electrical engineering from Manhattan College and an MBA from New York University. He has received three honorary doctorates.

O'Brien brings more than 40 years experience in the telecommunications and information technology industry with an extensive background in information systems, project management, technical marketing. He is the president of the O'Brien Group, a technology investment and consulting firm. He also serves as the president of Pan-Asia Development, an investment firm pursuing opportunities in Asia.

William readdy

William F. Readdy

William F. Readdy is founder and managing partner of Discovery Partners International, specializing in global space development and aerospace program management. He has three decades of experience across a broad range of aerospace specialties. He previously served as the NASA Associate Administrator for Space Operations, an astronaut, a Naval aviator and a test pilot. As a veteran pilot astronaut, Readdy made three space flights, STS-42 (January 22-30, 1992), STS-51 (September 12-22, 1993) and STS-79 (September 16-26, 1996).

At NASA, his assignments included serving as the agency's director of operations at Star City, Russia, where astronauts and cosmonauts train for launch aboard Russian Soyuz vehicles. As NASA Associate Administrator for Space Operations, he had more than $6 billion budget authority, and oversight for the Kennedy, Johnson, Marshall and Stennis Space Centers as well as programmatic oversight for International Space Station (ISS), Space Shuttle, Space Communications and Space Launch Vehicles. Readdy is the recipient of the Presidential Rank award, two NASA Distinguished Service medals, the Distinguished Flying Cross and holds the rank of Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, and the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. He is also an academician of the International Academy of Astronautics. Readdy serves on the board of directors of Spacehab/Astrotech, Corp. and also serves as chairman of the board of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education.