July 12, 2012 at 19:52 PM EDT
Moon Express Hires Dr. James Crawford as Chief Technology Officer and Software Architect
Former Google Director & NASA Robotics Lead joins Moon Express to search for new planetary resources of benefit to humanity.

SILICON VALLEY, Calif., July 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Moon Express, Inc., a provider of commercial and scientific missions to the Moon, announced today that Dr. James (Jimi) Crawford has joined the company as Chief Technology Officer and Software Architect. An expert in artificial intelligence and space systems, Dr. Crawford has held distinguished positions at NASA, led entrepreneurial start-ups, and in 2009 became Engineering Director for Google Books in charge of scanning the world's books and making them searchable online.

As Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Dr. Crawford will guide and pioneer the development of advanced technologies across the Moon Express enterprise supporting the company's long term vision. As Software Architect, he will lead the company's spacecraft and mission software development for the company's space missions including the pursuit of the $30M Google Lunar X PRIZE.

Prior to joining Google, Dr. Crawford was Executive Vice president at Composite Software, an enterprise software startup in the Bay Area, with responsibility for engineering and product development. Before joining Composite Software, Dr. Crawford spent three years at NASA's Ames Research Center as lead for Autonomy and Robotics. Among many other projects, his teams delivered the optimized activity planner used by both the Opportunity and Spirit Mars rovers, demonstrated next generation rovers with much higher levels of autonomy, and created optimized spacecraft antenna using genetic algorithms. He was also a member of several boards and working groups including the DART mishap investigation board. Prior to joining NASA, Dr. Crawford was the optimization architect for i2 Technologies' supply chain planner, co-founded the Computational Intelligence Research Laboratory (CIRL) at the University of Oregon, and worked at AT&T Bell Laboratories (back when the creators of Unix were still in residence).

Dr. Crawford has authored over 15 papers in referred journals and conferences, and holds five patents. He received his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin in Artificial Intelligence and his B.A. in Mathematics and Computer Science from Rice University.

The addition of Dr. Crawford to Moon Express' technical team accelerates the company's momentum as the leading contender in the Google Lunar X PRIZE competition. "We are thrilled to have Jimi join us as CTO and Software Architect," said Moon Express co-Founder and CEO Bob Richards. "With Jimi's combined space mission and software experience, our technical team just took another giant leap forward."

"Moon Express is a unique nexus of space technology experience and Silicon Valley style innovation," said Jimi Crawford. "The company has an exciting vision of commercial exploration and I am extremely pleased to join the team to reach for the Moon."

About Moon Express

Selected by Forbes as one of the 15 'Names You Need to Know' in 2011, Moon Express (MoonEx) is a privately funded lunar transportation and data services company based at the NASA Ames Research Park in Silicon Valley. The company plans to send a series of robotic spacecraft to the Moon for ongoing exploration and commercial development focused on benefits to Earth and has signed a partnership agreement with NASA for development of a lunar lander system.

Moon Express was selected by NASA in 2010 for its $30M Innovative Lunar Demonstration Data program, becoming one of only three US companies to be paid by NASA for access and insight into the company's commercial lunar plans. 

Moon Express is also a leading contender in the $30M Google Lunar X PRIZE competition, which challenges privately funded teams to place a robot on the Moon's surface that transmits high definition video, images and data back to Earth from the landing site and from 500 meters away.

The Moon Express founders, Dr. Robert (Bob) Richards, Naveen Jain, and Dr. Barney Pell, believe in the long term economic potential of the Moon to produce planetary resources essential to humanity's future on Earth and in space.

For more information, visit: www.moonexpress.com

About the Google Lunar X PRIZE

Generously funded by Google, the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE is an unprecedented competition to challenge and inspire engineers and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. To win the Google Lunar X PRIZE, a privately-funded team must successfully place a robot on the Moon's surface that explores at least 500 meters (1/3 of a mile) and transmits high definition video and images back to Earth. The first team to do so will claim a $20 million GrandPrize, while the second team will earn a $5 million Prize. Teams are also eligible to win a $1 million award for stimulating diversity in the field of space exploration and as much as $4 million in bonus prizes for accomplishing additional technical tasks such as moving ten times as far, surviving the frigid lunar night, or visiting the site of a previous lunar mission. The Google Lunar X PRIZE is available to be claimed until the end of 2015. For more information about the Google Lunar X PRIZE and the teams currently registered in the competition visit www.googlelunarxprize.org.

SOURCE Moon Express, Inc.

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