Shapiro Administration’s Investment in Astrobotic Technology Helps Lead America Back to the Moon, Grow Pennsylvania’s Economy
January 08, 2024
Shapiro Administration has invested millions in Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic Technology, helping the leading space and robotics company grow and create jobs to help Pennsylvania innovate and lead American back to the moon.
Harrisburg, PA – Today, Governor Josh Shapiro celebrated the successful launch of the Peregrine lander – developed by Pennsylvania-based Astrobotic Technology – which will carry out the first American mission to the moon in more than half a century. Peregrine Mission One, which launched today from Space Coast in Brevard County, Florida, is scheduled to touch down on the moon in late February.
The Peregrine lander carries a total of 20 payloads, or cargo, including five from NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative. The payload teams have missions that vary from seeking indications of water-ice near the lunar surface to demonstrating a rover swarm. The lander also has several payloads representing humanity through artwork and historical artifacts.
“Pennsylvania is headed to the moon – and I’m proud my Administration played a part in this historic launch, investing in Astrobotic to spur innovation, create jobs, and grow our Commonwealth’s economy,” said Governor Josh Shapiro. “We will continue to support and invest in the Commonwealth’s existing high-tech businesses like Astrobotic, as well as other innovative companies looking to come to Pennsylvania. We’re working to make Pennsylvania a true hub of innovation, and today’s historic lunar lander mission is a major achievement that shows how Pennsylvania is leading the way.”
This past November, the Shapiro Administration announced $4.38 million in investments to help the Pittsburgh-based company expand and create a “space campus” that will create jobs, spur innovation, and invest in new technologies. The company is renovating a new $20 million facility that will create 283 new, high-tech jobs and retain 174 employees and currently boasts over 180 Pennsylvania suppliers. Astrobotic Technology received offers from other states, including Florida and Texas, to relocate, but chose to remain in Pennsylvania.
Astrobotic is continuing to grow and win business to retain talent, attract new talent from other parts of the country, and further develop their homegrown science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce. Through their innovative and cutting-edge work, Astrobotic is enhancing Pennsylvania’s national reputation as a destination for creating, attracting, and retaining start-up companies and entrepreneurial talent. As the first major flagship space program in the Commonwealth, they are starting a new space ecosystem here in Pennsylvania.
“We’re thrilled to support Astrobotic, and today’s launch is a true landmark event for Pennsylvania’s growing space industry” said Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Rick Siger. “We look forward to building on this success and ensuring innovative companies like Astrobotic continue to lead the way in this dynamic sector.”
Astrobotic Technology acquired a five-story, 46,000-square-foot vacant building located at 1106 Reedsdale Street in Pittsburgh. The company is investing in extensive renovations of the property and will utilize four of the five floors for expansion space beyond its existing headquarters. Astrobotic Technology will lease a portion of the ground floor to the Keystone Space Collaborative for its Keystone Innovation Center.
This center will serve as a programmatic and co-working space for Keystone members and house the AFWERX/SpaceWERX Pittsburgh Hub. The new location will be the site of Astrobotic Technology’s new space campus that is helping to make Pittsburgh a regional and national leader in the industry.
Astrobotic Technology was spun out of Carnegie Mellon University in 2007 by William “Red” Whitaker who is widely regarded as the father of field robotics. The company seeks to make space accessible to the world. The Peregrine lunar lander will deliver payloads to the moon for companies, governments, universities, non-profits and individuals.
The company also develops advanced space robotics capabilities such as terrain relative navigation, mobile robotics for lunar surface operations, and reliable computing systems for mission-critical applications. Astrobotic Technology has contracts with a portfolio of companies, but its primary source of major contracts is through NASA.
“This launch symbolizes not just the hard work of hundreds of Pennsylvanians at Astrobotic and our suppliers, it also heralds the beginning of a new era of space industry growth in the Commonwealth,” said Astrobotic CEO John Thorton. “We’re proud to use this moment to show the world that if Pennsylvania can land on the Moon, Pennsylvania can do anything.”
From the lunar lander developed by Astrobotic Technology, to the manufacturing supply chain in Northeast Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania is home to a broad range of businesses and organizations in the aerospace and defense industries. The Commonwealth’s world-class educational institutions fuel the research and workforce that space companies need to succeed. Pennsylvania’s regional location is within easy driving distance of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Department of Defense (DoD) centers. And Pennsylvania’s partnership and support networks are ensuring that the rapidly accelerating growth in this sector is collaborative, inclusive, and strategic.
“On behalf of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, I congratulate Astrobotic on the historic launch of its Peregrine lander to the moon,” said Allegheny Conference on Community Development CEO Stefani Pashman. “This milestone is a testament to the company’s grit, determination and drive for success that began in 2007. Expanding from a two-person startup to a 200-plus employee enterprise, Astrobotic is in full growth mode and boldly vying to be the first private company to lead America back to lunar surface since the Apollo era.”
Since taking office, Governor Shapiro has gotten stuff done and prioritized economic growth and development. In March, Governor Shapiro toured Astrobotic to see the how the Pittsburgh company made Pennsylvania’s first spacecraft and pointed to the company as an example of the kind of innovation his Administration will foster across Pennsylvania.
For more information on how the Shapiro Administration got stuff done for Pennsylvanians during its first year in office, visit governor.pa.gov/accomplishments.
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