Astrobotic Technology, Inc. • CEO

John Thornton has grown Astrobotic’s business of delivering affordable space robotics technology and planetary missions by attracting technology contracts, equity investment, and payload customers. Thornton was promoted to reboot the company 5 years ago. He established a new corporate structure, attracted key personnel and developed the company’s payload business model. Thornton secured the company’s first lunar delivery contract and led the company to an additional 11-deals for the first mission. Thornton joined Astrobotic at its founding in 2007 as Mechanical Engineering Lead and soon thereafter was promoted to Chief Engineer. He led development of the program’s spacecraft including Red Rover, Polaris, the Artemis lander and the Griffin lander.

Prior to Astrobotic, Thornton led the build of Scarab for Carnegie Mellon, a NASA concept robot for lunar drilling, and the first robot to carry a prototype of NASA’s RESOLVE payload. He managed a research program that identified a battery that can survive the liquid nitrogen temperatures on the Moon. Thornton also founded Carnegie Mellon’s Advanced Composites Lab, a research, training, design, and manufacturing lab specializing in high performance, lightweight composites for robotics. Thornton holds a MS and BS in Mechanical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.

Thornton testified before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Science’s Subcommittee on Space in September 2017 on “private sector lunar exploration,” and has delivered multiple keynote speeches at international aerospace and robotics conferences. He has been featured and quoted in numerous national and regional media organizations, including NBC News and the Pittsburgh Business Times. Most recently, Thornton’s op-ed, “The Deep Space Gateway as a cislunar port” was featured on


International Astronautical Congress 2018

1–5 October 2018

Bremen, Germany