This iPhone app is shooting for the moon

Posted by Lydia Leavitt

A startup company known as Moon Express Inc. has deployed a new app developed by CrowdOptic to give researchers and fanboys an augmented reality experience of shuttle launches.

By looking through the phone camera's viewfinder, the user can see captions describing the progress of a rocket.

As viewers watch the rocket, their phone will display captions such as "Moon Express Launch at altitiude 500 meters," to update in real time.

"We are pleased that live spectators will be able to experience our rocket launches in this new way, visually enhanced by technology that provides every spectator with the same up-to-the-moment status updates that we see through our communications equipment," said Dr. Robert Richards, CEO at Moon Express. "With CrowdOptic, every spectator can receive a picture of our rocket the moment it breaks a launch milestone."

At the first airship launch of the mini-radar system on April 9th, 2011, CrowdOptic successfully tracked and tagged the rocket with altitude information during the launch live from Moffett Field, part of NASA's Ames Research Center.

"I cannot think of a more spectacular venue to debut our technology than this one, in support of a team that is quite literally shooting for the Moon," said Jon Fisher of CrowdOptic.

NASA couldn't agree more, selecting Moon Express as one of six U.S. companies selected for its "ILDD" commercial lunar data program.

Moon Express has its eye on the prize, the $30 million Google Lunar X-Prize to be exact, which will be awarded to the first private-sector team to place a robot on the Moon.