MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Feb. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Moon Express, Inc., a provider of commercial and scientific missions to the Moon, announced today that award-winning rocket pioneer Tim Pickens has been hired by the company as Chief Propulsion Engineer, responsible for overall propulsion architectures used in Earth departure stages, lunar breaking stages and lander propulsion systems. Among Pickens' responsibilities at Moon Express will be to lead its Huntsville office, located near the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Pickens will split his time between the Moon Express Huntsville office and its corporate headquarters at the NASA Ames Research Park in Silicon Valley.
Pickens is a highly renowned propulsion expert who reached public acclaim as the lead propulsion designer for Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne, the world's first private manned spaceship which won the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE in 2004. His public fame includes more than 20 years of experience in the aerospace industry, specializing in design, fabrication and testing of propulsion hardware systems that earned him a reputation as one of the commercial space industry's leaders. Pickens is known for applying a lean philosophy to develop creative solutions and innovative partnerships that provide responsive, low-cost products and services and his accomplishments have been featured in numerous major media outlets.
An avid inventor, entrepreneur, innovator, engineer and educator, Tim founded Orion Propulsion, a Huntsville aerospace company, in 2004 and sold it to Dynetics in 2009 after growing it to a 40-employee, $6.4 million business. Within five years, Orion had received multiple Small Business awards and become AS9100 certified to build man-rated flight hardware.Prior to joining Moon Express, Tim was chief propulsion engineer and commercial space advisor at Dynetics, as well as the team leader of the Rocket City Space Pioneers (RSCP), a leading Google Lunar X PRIZE contender that enjoyed the backing of many Huntsville companies and the state of Alabama. RCSP was acquired by Moon Express in December 2012 through a Teaming Agreement with Dynetics, which included a commitment to carry a " Spirit of Alabama " insignia to the surface of the Moon in honor of the incalculable contribution of Huntsville and the State of Alabama to the U.S. space program. "The Moon Express team has deep experience in spacecraft and business," said Pickens. "I'm really excited to be working with these folks toward another big challenge while also bringing the innovation and capabilities of my roots in Alabama to the table." "I am so thrilled to have Tim join our growing team," commented Bob Richards, Moon Express Co-Founder and CEO. "Last decade Tim applied his brilliance to SpaceShipOne and helped open up a whole new commercial space era," he remarked. "In this decade he's helping us reach for the Moon and open up a whole new world." 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 (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 SOURCE Moon Express, Inc.