By Tim Ryan

The lunar landscape is witnessing unprecedented milestones, thanks to the ingenuity hailing from Hampton Roads. The recent successful touchdown of the Odysseus lander near the moon’s south pole has not only marked a historic moment for Intuitive Machines but also showcased the pivotal role of local innovation in conquering new space frontiers. This achievement is further illuminated by the contributions of Psionic, a beacon of innovation in our community, now the sole provider of Navigation Doppler Lidar (NDL) technologies critical for precise lunar landings.

Psionic’s ascendancy in space navigation technology is rooted in a rich legacy of exploration and innovation. The NASA Langley Research Center, renowned for its contributions to space and aeronautics, developed the initial NDL systems used in landmark missions, including the one aboard Odysseus. As Langley’s torchbearer’s licensee, commercialization lead for NDL technology, Psionic, under the guidance of co-inventor and Chief Engineer Diego Pierrottet, has embraced the mantle of innovation. The company’s exclusive license over essential patents and its recent achievement of Technology Readiness Level (TRL)-9 underscore its leadership in providing reliable, cutting-edge navigation solutions for the challenges of lunar exploration.

The significance of Psionic’s contributions extends beyond technological prowess; it heralds a new era of space exploration powered by Hampton Roads’ innovation. As Psionic prepares to deliver two identical NDL units for Astrobotic’s forthcoming Griffin Mission, which will carry NASA’s VIPER rover to the lunar South Pole, the company reaffirms its commitment to advancing human knowledge and capabilities in space.

This momentous phase in space exploration, marked by Psionic’s achievements, exemplifies the boundless potential of local ingenuity. Hampton Roads’ role in shaping this future is clear and indispensable as we stand on the brink of a new lunar and beyond-Earth exploration era. The successful deployment of NDL technology on the lunar surface paves the way for future missions and inspires our community to dream bigger and reach further.

In this journey of discovery and innovation, the skies are not the limit but the beginning. Hampton Roads is at the forefront of this exciting new chapter, proving that our collective ambition and ingenuity can reach the moon and beyond.