Silicon Valley Contributes to Lunar Prospector

In the first NASA-supported mission to the moon in 25 years, 26 Silicon Valley firms together created the recently launched Lunar Prospector spacecraft. Led by Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space, the firms created the first peer-reviewed, competitively selected mission in NASA's Discovery Series.

By Staff February 1, 1998

In the first NASA-supported mission to the moon in 25 years, 26 Silicon Valley firms together created the recently launched Lunar Prospector spacecraft. Led by Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space, the firms created the first peer-reviewed, competitively selected mission in NASA’s Discovery Series. Lunar Prospector’s overall program budget is $63 million. By comparison, the first lunar orbiter in 1966 would have cost $266 million in 1997 dollars.

Participating companies included Hewlett-Packard (Palo Alto, Calif.), which contributed Lunar Prospector’s electrical test set, and Motion Industries Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif.), which contributed miniature precision bearings and actuators.

Launched in late November 1997, the 660 lb Lunar Prospector is spending a year in a polar orbit mapping the moon’s geological features and searching for water and other resources. Its instruments will also collect data about the moon’s gravity and magnetic fields, and check whether gases are being released at the surface.

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