Robert “Bob” Richards, the founder and chief executive officer (CEO) for Google Lunar X-Prize competitor Odyssey Moon Ltd., has left that company to start a new business designed to assist customers in developing a wide array of payloads to send into space.

“For the last few years, I concentrated on closing the technology gap and proving the business case for a commercial lunar enterprise,” Richards told Space News. “I believe I succeeded in showing that the technology gap and the business case can be closed.”

To create a healthy commercial market, however, those commercial lunar flights and any space-related ventures will need a strong customer base.

Richards hopes to support the creation of that customer base through a new company, RichSpace of Mountain View, Calif.

The new firm will “help customers develop payloads rapidly enough and inexpensively enough to become real and funded,” Richards said. “One of the hardest things for people to understand is how to get started in space. I want to help people marry their aspirations with the opportunities out there.”

Richards declined to comment on the future of Isle of Man-based Odyssey Moon, which was the first team to enter the Google Lunar X-Prize competition in 2007. In an Aug. 28 blog, Richards said, “The rationale for investing my time and energy timed out and I have had to resign as [chief executive] to pursue funded ventures. I hope Odyssey Moon remains recognized as a seminal mover in the history of commercial lunar aspirations.”