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VIPER Lunar Rover

Flyaway

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ASTROBOTIC AWARDED $199.5 MILLION CONTRACT TO DELIVER NASA MOON ROVER
JUNE 11, 2020
Astrobotic’s Griffin lunar lander to carry the NASA VIPER mission to the south pole of the Moon in 2023, as a precursor to a human landing

Pittsburgh, PA – Astrobotic, the world’s leading lunar logistics service provider, has been selected by NASA to deliver the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, to the south pole of the Moon in 2023.

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. In addition, Astrobotic’s MoonRanger rover was previously selected by NASA for delivery to the Moon in 2022 on the lander of another CLPS partner.

The Griffin lunar lander is Astrobotic’s medium capacity lander product line, and is capable of delivering up to 500 kg of mass to the lunar surface. Griffin uses many of the same subsystems and approaches employed by the Peregrine lander, which will fly two years before VIPER. Both lander product lines put a heavy emphasis on safe and reliable delivery of customer payloads to the Moon.

When VIPER disembarks from Griffin’s ramps onto the Moon, it will survey the surface and subsurface for water ice, which could be used for breathable air and rocket propellant by future deep space explorers. VIPER’s mapping of lunar water ice could be the first step toward utilizing resources in the space environment – rather than carting them all from Earth – to enable more affordable and sustainable space exploration.

“It is an enormous honor and responsibility to be chosen by NASA to deliver this mission of national importance,” said 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.”[/quote]

 

Flyaway

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NASA Selects Astrobotic to Fly Water-Hunting Rover to the Moon

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.

The water-seeking mobile VIPER robot will help pave the way for astronaut missions to the lunar surface beginning in 2024 and will bring NASA a step closer to developing a sustainable, long-term presence on the Moon as part of the agency’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,” said 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 is part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative, which leverages the capabilities of industry partners to quickly deliver scientific instruments and technology demonstrations to the Moon. As part of its award, Astrobotic is responsible for end-to-end services for delivery of VIPER, including integration with its Griffin lander, launch from Earth, and landing on the Moon.

During its 100-Earth-day mission, the approximately 1,000-pound VIPER rover will roam several miles and use its four science instruments to sample various soil environments. Versions of its three water-hunting instruments are flying to the Moon on earlier CLPS lander deliveries in 2021 and 2022 to help test their performance on the lunar surface prior to VIPER’s mission. The rover also will have a drill to bore approximately 3 feet into the lunar surface.

“CLPS is a totally creative way to advance lunar exploration,” said 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.”


 
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