A fresh era of Moon exploration came
one giant leap closer today as LunaCorp announced its initiatives to send
advanced robots to the lunar surface.
The robots will prospect for water and
prepare the way for human settlements, with their adventure live on the
Internet, on television networks and at science centers.

The initial Icebreaker Moon Rover is scheduled for launch in late 2003 on
a commercial rocket like those used to orbit communications satellites.
rover is being designed by Dr. Red Whittaker, chief scientist of the Robotics
Institute of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
The goal is to explore
near the Moon’s poles where orbiting satellites have found indications that
valuable ice deposits may lurk deep in permanently shadowed polar craters.

Because the Moon is hotter than boiling water at noon and colder than
liquid nitrogen at night, the robot will avoid those extremes by
circumnavigating the Moon every 29.5 days, which is the length of a lunar day.

“Our robot, by driving completely around the Moon at a high latitude at
only a few kilometers per hour, will enjoy ‘lunar morning’ temperatures all
the time by staying in synch with the sun,” said Dr. Whittaker.
“The Apollo
astronauts landed just a few days after dawn, and left long before noon, but
for long-term exploration we had to find another way to beat the heat and

The Icebreaker Moon Rover project will be funded by corporate sponsors,
exclusive television contracts, fees from an Internet portal, ticket sales at
science centers offering motion-platform “telepresence chambers” linked to the
robot, and contracts with government space agencies.

RadioShack Corporation, the nation’s largest consumer electronics
retailer, became the first corporate sponsor of this effort.

“We’re supporting this new round of moon exploration for brand
differentiation that associates RadioShack with science, technology and the
pursuit of ultimate answers.
We’re also backing it because the last push to
get to the moon led directly to the development of wireless phones, satellite
dishes and internet businesses,” said Jim McDonald, senior vice president of
marketing for RadioShack.

McDonald added, “This project presents not only an original branding
opportunity for RadioShack as opposed to signs in baseball stadiums, but also
allows us to provide an educational and personal involvement opportunity for
the nearly one million customers who visit RadioShack every day.
Through a
realistic computer game simulator of lunar robot driving, that we are
developing with our partner Microsoft, our customers will be able to learn
more about this exciting project.
And once the robot is on the Moon, there
will be opportunities for customers to interact with the project over the
Internet and at RadioShack.com.”

“This free simulation at RadioShack will be part of LunaCorp’s research
into how to design software for lunar exploration that anyone can understand
and use,” said LunaCorp president David Gump.
“Web visitors will be helping
us refine the tools needed for the premier Internet event of the 21st century
— live Moon exploration hosted by a talking multimedia robot searching for
ways to begin a human settlement.”

LunaCorp advisor Dr. Buzz Aldrin, who walked on the Moon with Neil
Armstrong in 1969, applauded the RadioShack commitment.
“A successful future
for space exploration depends on involving the public directly, and I am
delighted that RadioShack shares this vision of opening up the adventure to

The Robotics Institute sunsynchronous Moon rover design will get a
terrestrial test in July 2001 in the Canadian Arctic, where it will circle a
local high spot in 24 hours as the Sun clocks around the horizon.
NASA has
financed this field trial with a $1 million grant and LunaCorp’s corporate
sponsors will pay for the communications required to link the robot to the
Internet so the entire world can participate.

Gump said LunaCorp is seeking three to four additional companies to join
RadioShack in sponsoring this terrestrial trek and the eventual Moon landing.
“Each will get an exclusive contest or activity they can use to reward their
customers,” Gump said.

The Arlington, VA, LunaCorp has been developing private Moon exploration
technology since 1989.
Additional information is available from
www.lunacorp.com .

Video News Release at 1:30 p.m. Thursday on Telstar 6, C band, Transponder
8, audio 6.2 & 6.8, re-transmission at 10 a.m. Friday on Telstar 4, C band,
Transponder 6, same audio.