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Moon Express Hires NASA-mentored FIRST Robotics Champions to Develop Lunar Robots

Press Release From: Moon Express
Posted: Friday, September 9, 2011



Some of the nations' brightest FIRST Robotics students will now reach for the Moon in the newly established Moon Express Robotics Lab for Innovation (MERLIN)

Mountain View, CA (September 9, 2011) - Moon Express, a Google Lunar X PRIZE contender, announced today that it has established the "Moon Express Robotics Lab for Innovation" (MERLIN) and has hired a team of the nations' brightest engineering students who became international superstars through the FIRST Robotics Competition. MERLIN will develop robotic technology supporting the company's lunar exploration missions under the leadership of Marco Chacin, a graduate of the International Space University who holds a PhD in Aerospace Engineering and developed robotic solutions for the JAXA/ISAS "Hayabusa" asteroid sample return missions.

The engineering team hired by Moon Express was mentored at the NASA Ames Robotics Academy, where they also developed innovative lunar micro-rover concepts. "MERLIN is formed around the best and most accomplished young robotics engineers," said company co-founder and CEO Bob Richards. "FIRST Robotics has inspired their life passion; now they are working to be FIRST on the Moon."

The MERLIN launch team includes Marco Chacin (Lead), Matt Carberry, Guy Chriqui, Kevin Huang, Cory McBride, Brandon Plaster, EJ Sabathia Jr., Mike Stewart and Krystine Thoroughman.

MERLIN's initial focus will be on the development, demonstration and flight design of a micro-rover capable of exploration of the lunar surface that is compatible with the lunar lander system being developed by Moon Express engineers in collaboration with NASA. The micro-rovers will complement micro-hopper systems also being developed by the company, providing a flexible and agile lunar mobility system solution.

NASA is the largest sponsor of the FIRST Robotics Competition. Although more than 11,000 students in 600 teams from 29 countries competed in this year's robotics challenge, Team 254, a NASA Ames-mentored team for the past 14 years, won the 2011 championship.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a long-standing challenge founded by leading American scientist and inventor Dean Kamen, is designed to inspire curiosity and create interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics among high school students.

About Moon Express

Selected by Forbes as one of the '15 Names You Should Know', Moon Express (MoonEx) is a privately funded lunar transportation and data services company based at the NASA Ames Research Park in Silicon Valley. The company plans to send a series of robotic spacecraft to the Moon for ongoing exploration and commercial development focused on benefits to Earth and has signed a partnership agreement with NASA for development of a lunar lander system.

Moon Express was founded in 2010 by Dr. Robert (Bob) Richards, a founder of International Space University, who serves as CEO; Naveen Jain, a philanthropist, entrepreneur and technology pioneer who founded Intelius and InfoSpace and serves as chairman; and Dr. Barney Pell, Chief Architect for Bing Local Search at Microsoft and former NASA manager, who serves as Vice Chairman and Chief Technology Officer. The Moon Express founders also work together as Trustees of Singularity University. Moon Express has been selected by NASA for a lunar data services contract worth up to $10M. It is also one of only three U.S. companies to receive the first $500K delivery order under NASA's Innovative Lunar Demonstrations Data (ILDD) program.

Moon Express is also a leading contender in the $30M Google Lunar X PRIZE (GLXP) competition, which challenges privately funded teams to place a robot on the Moon's surface that transmits high definition video, images and data back to Earth from the landing site and from 500 meters away. The GLXP is available until 2015.

The Moon Express founders believe in the long term economic potential of the Moon to produce resources essential to humanity's future on Earth and in space.

For more information, please visit: www.moonexpress.com

Daven Maharaj 650-646-5356 (M)

media@moonexpress.com

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