WASHINGTON — As Astrobotic wraps up the investigation into its first lunar lander mission, the company is bringing on experienced industry officials to help with the development of its second, larger lander.

Astrobotic announced March 21 that it hired Steve Clarke as its new vice president of landers and spacecraft and Frank Peri as its director of engineering. It also brought on board Mike Gazarik and Jim Reuter as advisers.

Clarke is a former NASA official who held roles that include serving as deputy associate administrator for exploration in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, overseeing the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program that Astrobotic is a part of. He was most recently director of future architectures at Sierra Space. Peri is a former director of the Safety and Mission Assurance Office at NASA’s Langley Research Center.

John Thornton, chief executive of Astrobotic, said in an interview that the hirings are intended to bring in people with extensive experience to help with the company’s lunar lander sand other projects.

Clarke “understand the CLPS model because he started the CLPS model at NASA,” he said. “He brings a lot of the right kind of talent and skill sets to the company and to the Griffin program in particular.” Griffin is a lunar lander Astrobotic is building that is larger than the Peregrine lander it launched in January.

Thornton said the company hired Peri for his background in safety and mission assurance at NASA Langley. “That’s going to be an area that we’re going to spend some more effort on upgrading here at Astrobotic, and we’re thrilled to have him on board and helping us guide our engineering teams, building a team that’s capable of not just flying successfully once but time and time again.”

Gazarik and Reuter, both former NASA associate administrators for space technology, are the first advisers that the company has publicly announced, although Thornton said many others help the company in less formal ways. “We can basically call any one of these folks and get some experts on the call on just about any discipline.”

The hirings come as Astrobotic is working to wrap up its investigation into Peregrine Mission 1, its first lunar lander mission. That spacecraft launched on Jan. 8 but suffered a propellant leak hours after liftoff that prevented a lunar landing. The spacecraft flew for a week and a half in cislunar space before reentering over the South Pacific.

Astrobotic said at the time of the mission that the likely cause of the leak was a valve failure that caused helium to rush into an oxidizer tank, overpressurizing it. “They’re making really good progress,” Dan Hendrickson, vice president of business development at Astrobotic, said at a March 21 session of the American Astronautical Society’s Goddard Space Science Symposium. “We are working very hard to get to a root cause that will then inform corrective actions we will take for our next lander mission, which is Griffin.”

Thornton said that review, which includes outside experts, should be completed in “weeks, not months,” but that the company has not set a deadline for wrapping it up.

“If it takes extra time to find all of the issues and make sure we fully understand them, we will take that time, balanced against needing that feedback as fast as possible for Griffin,” he said. That means incorporating some lessons learned into Griffin even as the investigation is in progress.

Assembly of Griffin is “proceeding apace” as the investigation continues, but he said the company is preparing to do some rework based on the outcome of the investigation. “We have anticipated where the impacts are going to be and we’ve basically stayed away from those areas,” he said, such as valves.

Those changes, he said, will affect not just Griffin hardware but also its schedule. The lander was set to launch late this year to deliver NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) to the south polar regions of the moon to search for water ice. Once the failure investigation is complete, “then we’ll know what to do and what impact it will have.”

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...