PITTSBURGH, June 29, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Astrobotic, which is building a service to make the Moon accessible to the world, today announces the selection of Sharad Bhaskaran as Mission Director. A nationwide search was conducted for the new position and Bhaskaran stood out as a clear fit to lead the team, with 25 years of experience at Lockheed Martin successfully developing and managing payload projects for spaceflight applications.
"Sharad, with his extensive space experience, is a perfect fit to lead our team of world class partners including Aerojet Rocketdyne, Airbus Defence and Space, Carnegie Mellon and NASA in the development of the Peregrine lunar lander," said John Thornton, CEO of Astrobotic.
Bhaskaran started his career at Lockheed Martin in 1989 as a Payload Systems Engineer, where he performed Spacelab payload structural analysis for three integrated racks that flew and operated on Shuttle missions SLS-1 and SLS-2. In addition, he led negotiation and testing of more than 30 U.S. payloads onto the Mir Space Station.
When the Mir program concluded, he supported the International Space Station (ISS) Human Research Facility in various project and leadership roles, contributing to successful launch and operation of the system on ISS. He would go on to contribute as a prime technical volume writer for the winning Bioastronautics proposal, worth more than $1 billion to the prime contractor. On Bioastronautics he became the Lockheed Martin Department Manager for Systems Integration & Development, developing and managing payload concepts for ISS science and operations support.
Bhaskaran rounded out his career with Lockheed Martin when he was selected by his business unit to take over as Program Manager for the West Coast portfolio, which included the $300 million NASA Ames Research Center Programs & Projects engineering and science services contract and Shuttle operations support contracts at Armstrong Flight Research Facility and White Sands Space Harbor. The Ames contract provided science, engineering, IT, and outreach support to more than 35 projects across all 9 technical directorates at Ames, including: SOFIA, Kepler, ISS life science payloads, the Astrobiology Institute, the Ames Proposal Office, and lunar and Mars science instrument development. During this time, he achieved the highest performance score and highest annual sales in the contract's history, and successfully added a second technical services subcontract to Lockheed's portfolio at NASA Ames.
"I am honored to be selected for this role and excited to lead an exceptional team to help Astrobotic create a commercial lunar delivery service," said Sharad Bhaskaran, about his new position as Mission Director at Astrobotic. "Astrobotic's accomplishments to date, along with the key partnerships they've forged, position them well to successfully land the first privately-funded robotic spacecraft on the Moon. I look forward to working with the entire team on this historic mission."
Another passion of Bhaskaran's is giving back to the community. He led workshops for InnVision Shelter Network in San Mateo, a shelter that is dedicated to helping homeless families and individuals regain permanent housing and self-sufficiency. The workshops taught clients financial planning, life skills, and career counseling. He also has provided tutoring in math, and reading and writing to inner city disadvantaged youth through Interfaith Ministries of Houston.
Astrobotic Technology is a lunar logistics company that delivers payloads to the Moon for companies, governments, universities, nonprofits, and individuals. The company's spacecraft accommodates multiple customers on a single flight, offering lunar delivery at an industry-defining price of $1.2 Million per kilogram. Astrobotic is a partner with NASA through a Space Act Agreement under the Lunar CATALYST program, and has 21 prior and ongoing NASA contracts. The company has 10 deals in place for its first mission and dozens of customer negotiations for upcoming missions. The company is also pursuing the Google Lunar XPRIZE with partner Carnegie Mellon University. Astrobotic was spun out of Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute in 2007, and is headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA.
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