NASA Selects Astrobotic Rover to Prospect for Water on the Moon’s South Pole


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

(News from NASA)

NASA has awarded Astrobotic of Pittsburgh $199.5 million to deliver NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) to the Moon’s South Pole in late 2023. VIPER will collect data – including the location and concentration of ice – that will be used to inform the first global water resource maps of the Moon.

“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.”
— Jim Bridenstine, NASA Administrator

Astrobotic will provide an end-to-end delivery for VIPER on board the company’s Griffin lunar lander through a $199.5 million contract awarded under the NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, or CLPS. Griffin’s delivery of VIPER will be Astrobotic’s second CLPS delivery, following the company’s Peregrine lander delivery in 2021. (Source: Astrobotic Technology, Inc.)

Illustration of VIPER aboard the Griffin lunar lander (Credit: Astrobotic, Inc.)

NASA has previously contracted with three companies to make CLPS deliveries to the Moon beginning in 2021. Astrobotic is scheduled to make its first delivery of other instruments to the lunar surface next year.

The mobile, half-ton VIPER robot will help pave the way for astronaut missions to the lunar surface beginning in 2024.

“What we learn from VIPER will bring us a step closer to developing a sustainable, long-term human presence on the Moon,” said Lori Glaze, Director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division.

Source/read the full NASA press release here.