Astrobotic Selected by NASA to Fly VIPER Rover to the Moon [Video]

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NASA Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover

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Illustration of NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) on the surface area of the Moon. Credit: NASA Ames/Daniel Rutter

NASA has actually granted Astrobotic of Pittsburgh $199.5 million to provide NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) to the Moon’s South Pole in late 2023.

The water-seeking mobile VIPER robotic will assist lead the way for astronaut objectives to the lunar surface area start in 2024 and will bring NASA an action more detailed to establishing a sustainable, long-lasting existence on the Moon as part of the company’s Artemis program.

“The VIPER rover and the commercial partnership that will deliver it to the Moon are a prime example of how the scientific community and U.S. industry are making NASA’s lunar exploration vision a reality,” stated NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Commercial partners are changing the landscape of space exploration, and VIPER is going to be a big boost to our efforts to send the first woman and next man to the lunar surface in 2024 through the Artemis program.”

VIPER’s flight to the Moon becomes part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) effort, which leverages the abilities of market partners to rapidly provide clinical instruments and innovation presentations to the Moon. As part of its award, Astrobotic is accountable for end-to-end services for shipment of VIPER, consisting of combination with its Griffin lander, launch from Earth, and landing on the Moon.

During its 100-Earth-day objective, the roughly 1,000-pound VIPER rover will wander numerous miles and utilize its 4 science instruments to sample different soil environments. Versions of its 3 water-hunting instruments are flying to the Moon on earlier CLPS lander shipments in 2021 and 2022 to assist evaluate their efficiency on the lunar surface area prior to VIPER’s objective. The rover likewise will have a drill to bore roughly 3 feet into the lunar surface area.

“CLPS is a totally creative way to advance lunar exploration,” stated NASA’s Associate Administrator for Science Thomas Zurbuchen. “We’re doing something that’s never been done before – testing the instruments on the Moon as the rover is being developed. VIPER and the many payloads we will send to the lunar surface in the next few years are going to help us realize the Moon’s vast scientific potential.”


NASA’s water-seeking robotic Moon rover simply scheduled a trip to the Moon’s South Pole. Astrobotic of Pittsburgh has actually been chosen to provide the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, to the Moon in 2023. During its 100-Earth-day objective, the roughly 1,000-pound rover will wander numerous miles and utilize its 4 science instruments to sample different soil environments searching for water ice. Its study will assist lead the way for a brand-new period of human objectives to the lunar surface area and will bring us an action more detailed to establishing a sustainable, long-lasting robotic and human existence on the Moon as part of the Artemis program. Credits: NASA/Ames Research Center

VIPER will gather information – consisting of the place and concentration of ice – that will be utilized to notify the very first international water resource maps of the Moon. Scientific information collected by VIPER likewise will notify the choice of future landing websites for astronaut Artemis objectives by assisting to figure out places where water and other resources can be gathered to sustain people throughout extended explorations. Its science examinations will offer insights into the development of the Moon and the Earth-Moon system.

NASA has actually formerly contracted with 3 business to make CLPS shipments to the Moon start in 2021. Astrobotic is set up to make its very first shipment of other instruments to the lunar surface area next year. In April, the company launched a require prospective future lunar surface area examinations and got more than 200 reactions. CLPS is prepared to offer a constant cadence of 2 shipment chances to the lunar surface area each year.

“It is an enormous honor and responsibility to be chosen by NASA to deliver this mission of national importance,” stated Astrobotic CEO John Thornton. “Astrobotic’s lunar logistics services were created to open a new era on the Moon. Delivering VIPER to look for water, and setting the stage for the first human crew since Apollo, embodies our mission as a company.”  

VIPER is a partnership in between different NASA entities and company partners. The spacecraft, lander and launch lorry that will provide VIPER to the surface area of the Moon will be offered through NASA’s CLPS effort as a collaboration with market for providing science and innovation payloads to and near the lunar surface area. CLPS becomes part of the Lunar Discovery and Exploration Program handled by the company’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The VIPER objective becomes part of SMDs Planetary Science Division. NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley is handling the VIPER objective, in addition to leading the objective’s science, systems engineering, real-time rover surface area operations and flight software application. The rover hardware is being developed and constructed by NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and the instruments are offered by Ames, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and industrial partner Honeybee Robotics in Altadena, California.