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Next Giant Leap

About Us

Based in the United States, team Next Giant Leap (NGL) boasts highly qualified members from the academic, aerospace and small business communities. NGL was founded on the concept that a small but focused team is the ideal vehicle to efficiently engineer the winning Google Lunar XPRIZE entry.

Founded by Michael Joyce in November of 2007, the team was known only as the “Mystery Team” for the first year. That first year was well spent, recruiting the best possible team members and building the strong working relationships required to reach our goals.

Now our team eagerly embraces the remaining challenges, challenges which we expect to surmount together in the “Next Giant Leap”.

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” Neil Armstrong, July 20, 1969

Almost forty years ago, Neil Armstrong became the first Man to step on the Moon and uttered the famous words quoted above. Many of us thought that this would launch a new era of space exploration, one leading to permanent human settlements on the Moon and human exploration of Mars. However, only three short years later, the final Apollo mission to the Moon concluded with another famous quote, “We leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace, and hope for all mankind.” - Eugene Cernan, December 19, 1972

Recently NASA has begun to pursue a human return to the Moon with plans to step again on its surface around 2018. But for this effort to be more than just a repeat of history there needs to be a different element this time. We believe that for this new exploration to sustain itself it must be done in partnership with commercial enterprise.

Next Giant Leap’s vision is to provide affordable commercial services in support of lunar and other solar system exploration leading to a sustainable expansion of human presence in our solar system.

The strength of team Next Giant Leap is clearly revealed upon examination of the individual team members.


Next Giant Leap (www.nextgiantleap.com) NGL was founded in 2007 by Mr. Michael Joyce and forms the core of the organization. By leveraging his business and leadership abilities, Michael has built a small but focused team that is unsurpassed in terms of experience and resources.

Sierra Nevada Corporation - Space Systems. (www.sncorp.com) The Space Systems business area of Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) was established in 2009 with the combination of SNC subsidiary, MicroSat Systems, SpaceDev, which was acquired by SNC in late 2008, and Starsys which was acquired by SpaceDev in 2006. MicroSat Systems, SpaceDev, and Starsys have a combined twenty year history in space, providing hardware for over 300 Earth orbiting and interplanetary missions. SNC Space Systems designs and manufactures satellites, spacecraft subsystems and components, and rocket propulsion systems for defense, civil government, corporate and international customers. We also provide customers with innovative, responsive, and cost effective design options for power systems, avionics, lightweight structures, and human spacecraft systems. SNC Space Systems products have made space exploration a success. Our spacecraft components have been on multiple interplanetary missions including the actuators and motors that power the Mars Rovers, and our hybrid rocket technologies powered the first commercial spaceplane to sub-orbital space. We are changing how we use space by building innovative, lower cost satellites like TacSat 2 and Trailblazer, the first Operationally Responsive Space satellite, and by creating advanced miniaturized avionics, thin-film solar arrays, and lightweight composite structures for spacecraft of the future.

MIT Space Systems Laboratory (http://ssl.mit.edu/about/) Founded in 1995, the Space Systems Laboratory engages in cutting edge research projects with the goal of directly contributing to the present and future exploration and development of space. Specific missions include developing the technology and systems analysis associated with small spacecraft, precision optical systems, and International Space Station technology research and development. The laboratory encompasses expertise in structural dynamics, control, thermal, space power, propulsion, MEMS, software development and systems. A major activity in this laboratory is the development of small spacecraft thruster systems as well as looking at issues associated with the distribution of function among satellites. In addition, technology is being developed for spaceflight validation in support of a new class of space-based telescopes that exploit the physics of interferometry to achieve dramatic breakthroughs in angular resolution. The objective of the Laboratory is to explore innovative concepts for the integration of future space systems and to train a generation of researchers and engineers conversant in this field.

The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, Inc. (www.draper.com/space/space.html) Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Draper Laboratory is a research and development laboratory, employing more than 750 engineers, scientists, and technicians on a broad array of programs for government and commercial sponsors among its 1,025 employees. The Laboratory’s unparalleled expertise in the areas of guidance, navigation, and control systems remains its greatest resource. Draper is among the leaders in fault-tolerant computing, reliable software development, modeling and simulation, and MEMS technology. It applies its expertise to a broad range of domains, including autonomous air, land, sea, and space systems; information integration; distributed sensors and networks; precision-guided munitions; air traffic flow management; military logistics; and biomedical engineering and chemical/biological defense. To this end, Draper has nurtured a highly skilled and motivated work force supported by a network of exceptional design, fabrication, and test facilities. This combination of highly trained technical talent and state-of-the-art facilities enables the Laboratory not only to deliver the design and development of first-of-a-kind systems incorporating innovative technology, but also to offer high-value-added engineering services to a broad range of government and commercial sponsors. These efforts are enhanced by our robust Independent Research and Development (IR&D) program through which we invest more than $20 million each year, supporting both internal efforts and collaborative projects with the country’s leading universities. IR&D enables us to work on projects focused on technologies that we anticipate will meet future near-term and long-term requirements, while allowing us to continuously refresh our core competencies.

Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation (www.aurora.aero) Aurora designs and builds robotic aircraft and other advanced aerospace vehicles for scientific and military applications. Aurora is headquartered in Manassas, VA and operates production plants in Bridgeport, WV and Columbus, MS and a Research and Development Center in Cambridge, MA.

Chris Pavlovski at Jolt Media (www.jmg.com) Chris Pavlovski is one of the founders of Jokeroo and is currently the acting Chief Executive Officer of JMG. Chris has over 10 years of online advertising & marketing experience. At JMG Chris has worked with companies including but not limited to Warner Bros, Universal, Paramount, Virgin Mobile, Lionsgate, Coors, and Red Bull. During his tenure at JMG, Chris has been responsible for generating annual sales in the millions. Prior to JMG, Chris worked for Microsoft Corporation, a world leader in computer software development. His studies included Economics and Computer Science at University of Toronto.

Team Members

  1. Michael Joyce

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