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Google Lunar XPrize in Pittsburgh with the Pittsburgh Grapev

Google Lunar XPrize in Pittsburgh with the Pittsburgh Grapevine.   Next stop... The Moon!

Photo's in the gallery below by George Mendel Photography

New Best Friends: The First Meeting of Astrobotic & Hakuto's Robots

Pictured above are the crews of Google Lunar XPRIZE Moon teams Astrobotic and Hakuto, and they're beaming with pride---as they should be!

For this was a historic moment:

The first-ever meeting of the teams' Moon robots, Andy (Astrobotic) and Moonraker & Tetris (Hakuto)!

These three robots will be flying together to the surface of the Moon, having a NASCAR-style race there for our $20 million grand prize, and then exploring a moon cave! (No big deal, right?)

They've got hard hats, they're ready for the Moon! Andy, Moonraker, and Tetris. (Image: Astrobotic's Kevin Peterson on Twitter.)

The robots became instant BFFs, frolicking together along the simulated lunar landscapes at the LaFarge company slag site in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania:

While also completing important field tests, such as testing of a system to help them avoid the quicksand-like fate of the Mars Spirit rover.

The effort to have the rovers all on the same mission is an example of "co-opetition", where in this case, competing Google Lunar XPRIZE teams found it might be easiest to go to the Moon together and then work out the $30 million in potential prize monies from there. Astrobotic hopes to sign on additional teams beyond Hakuto as customers to ride along on their lunar lander.

But, for now, the mission is an east-meets-west partnership of two leaders in space robotics, with a plan to launch on a SpaceX rocket in late 2016.

Which, for this visit by Hakuto to Astrobotic's Pennsylvania, involved a little taking in of the local flavor before the big tests!:

Team Hakuto embracing their inner space/yakyu pirate at Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh. Arrrr. [Image: Astrobotic's Jackie Erickson on Twitter.]

A great way to prep! (Stay tuned in October as the travels go the other way, with the 2015 Google Lunar XPRIZE Team Summit happening in Tokyo, Japan!)

It's going to be a fun ride as these teams continue to work together and complete great field tests, so keep an eye here---and on all the teams!

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