Press Release

Draper Funds $1M For Next Giant Leap's Moon Lander

Boulder, CO – January 21st, 2011 – Next Giant Leap LLC (NGL) announced that Draper Laboratory has committed over $1 million from their internal research and development (IR&D) program to fund the design and development of a guidance, navigation and control (GN&C) system testbed for use in Next Giant Leap's commercial lunar mission. 

"A critical component of any lunar landing mission is the GN&C," said Séamus Tuohy, Space Systems Director at Draper. "In addition to landing, we are developing a system that can propulsively hop, and this provides great flexibility to perform regional exploration of the lunar surface."  Draper has enlisted MIT faculty, staff and students for the development of the GN&C testbed in order to deliver a future capability to enhance the Nation’s space exploration efforts as well as develop the Nation’s future space technology leaders.

NGL is a leading contender for the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, which requires contestant vehicles to travel at least 500 meters from their initial landing location.  The innovative GN&C research underway at Draper will allow NGL's exploration craft to traverse large distances while flying over obstacles.  This "hopping" method of transportation has many advantages on a low gravity body such as the moon.

Michael Joyce - Founder of NGL - stated, "I'm thrilled by the commitment to the NGL mission shown by Draper's team.  Their funding ensures that this critical mission component will be ready to fly on schedule."  In addition to Draper's IR&D support and funding from eSpace, NGL anticipates additional income via its offering of exciting and unique corporate sponsorship opportunities.


Next Giant Leap LLC is a team of aerospace engineers partnered with leading aerospace firms to provide commercial access to the moon. The team is designing an integrated system for taking small payloads to the moon commercially. They are leading contenders in the Google X-Prize, a $30M contest challenging space entrepreneurs to land on the moon, maneuver, and send back data.  The team's lead systems integrator is Sierra Nevada Corporation, known for its innovation in small spacecraft.  Leading the difficult task of final descent and safe landing on the lunar surface is Draper Laboratory.  Draper has been involved in space guidance navigation and control since the earliest days of the space program. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the leading engineering institution in the United States, is Next Giant Leap's key academic partner.  For more information on Next Giant Leap LLC, please visit


Draper Laboratoryis an independent, not-for-profit research and development (R&D) organization serving the national interest in applied research, engineering development, technology transfer, and advanced technical education. Sponsors include the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, DARPA, NASA, and other government agencies. While much of the Lab’s work is government-funded, Draper also performs work for the commercial sector and has a robust IR&D program.  For more information on Draper, please visit

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