NASA’s Marshall Spaceflight Center announced on September 20, 2013 that a partnership has been forged with Moon Express, a company that is a contestant in the Lunar Google X Prize and which proposes to develop lunar mining operations.
“Under the terms of a Reimbursable Space Act Agreement signed with Moon Express, NASA Marshall is providing its "Mighty Eagle" lander test vehicle and engineering team in support of a series of test flights to help validate the company's Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC) flight software. Guidance algorithms developed by Moon Express will be integrated into the existing Guidance, Navigation and Control (GN&C) Software on-board the Mighty Eagle and used to perform a flight test series. In return, Moon Express is reimbursing NASA Marshall for the cost of providing the test vehicle and technical support.”
A test flight using the Mighty Eagle using Moon Express software has already been successfully concluded. Mighty Eagle, named after one of the Angry Birds characters, is testing a hydrogen peroxide engine and an optical base collision avoidance system to autonomously land on rugged terrain on other worlds, such as the moon or Mars.
Moon Express is developing a lander as part of the Lunar Google XPrize that it hopes to land on the moon’s surface before the end of 2015. It would deploy a rover and return images and video.