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NASA has chosen Astrobotics to manufacture a robotic vehicle that will search for water on the moon

The vehicle known as VIPER will be launched to the South Pole of the Moon in 2023, with the aim of searching for water that will enable long-term human activity on the Moon, as part of the Artemis program

The Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER), which will be built by Astrobotics. illustration:
The Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER), which will be built by Astrobotics. illustration:

NASA has awarded Pittsburgh-based Astrobotics $199.5 million to build the Lunar South Pole Water Vapor Detection All-terrain Vehicle to deliver NASA's Volatile Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) to the Moon's south pole in late 2023.

The space agency says the mobile water-seeking robot VIPER will help pave the way for manned missions to the moon starting in 2024 and bring NASA another step closer to developing a sustainable long-term presence on the moon as part of the Artemis program.

NASA Administrator Jim Brendenstein said at the winner's announcement ceremony: "The VIPER rover and the commercial partnership that will launch it to the Moon are a prime example of how the American scientific community and industry are making NASA's vision of lunar exploration a reality. "Commercial partners are changing the face of space exploration, and VIPER is going to give a big boost to our efforts to send two astronauts to the moon, including the first woman to land on the moon in 2024 through the Artemis program."

As part of the contract, Astrobotics will be responsible for VIPER from end to end, including its integration with NASA's Griffin lander, launch from Earth and landing on the Moon.

During its 100-day mission, the robotic vehicle weighing about 450 kg will roam several kilometers on the moon and will use four measuring devices to sample different ground environments. Versions of its three water-hunting devices will fly even earlier on CLPS landers, in 2021 and 2023 to test their performance on the Moon before the VIPER mission. The vehicle will also carry a device that will allow it to drill up to a depth of three meters on the lunar surface.

"CLPS is a completely creative way to advance lunar exploration," said NASA's Science Mission Director Thomas Zurbotsen. "We are doing something that has never been done before - testing the instruments on the moon at the same time as developing the rover. VIPER and the many payloads that will be sent to the surface of the Moon in the coming years are going to help us realize the enormous scientific potential of the Moon. "

VIPER will collect data - including the location and concentration of the ice - that will be used to update the first maps of the moon's water resources. Scientific data collected by VIPER will help target the Artemis program's manned landing sites by pointing to places where water and other resources needed for more extended missions in the future can be extracted. In addition, the data will also help in obtaining new insights regarding the development and the Earth-Moon system.

NASA has previously contracted with three companies to build facilities for CLPS to the moon starting in 2021. Astrobotics will also send some such facilities. In April, the agency published a call for studies on the moon through VIPER and received about 200 applications.

"We feel an honor but also a tremendous responsibility to have been chosen by NASA to provide the robotic vehicle for a mission of national importance," said John Thornton, CEO of Astrobotics. "Astrobotics' lunar logistics services were created to usher in a new era on the moon. Launching VIPER to search for water and prepare the ground for the first human crew on the moon since the Apollo program embodies our mission as a company.”

to NASA's announcement

More of the topic in Hayadan:

The Space Flight Center in Huntsville Alabama will be responsible for the development of the Artemis lunar lander
IAI will develop a lunar lander for one of NASA's subcontractors in the return to the moon project - Artemis
NASA selects the initial commercial lunar landing services for the Artemis program

2 תגובות

  1. And suppose you find water on the moon. Why is it good? Bring water to earth? Every day, millions of liters of new water enter the earth from space. How much will you be able to bring? Four cub a month? What "groundbreaking" scientific discoveries will you already find on the moon? You know what it's made of and you know that this work environment makes no sense at all.

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