NASA chooses Astrobotic to launch the VIPER rover on the Moon as part of the Commercial Lunar Cargo Services – Technology News, Firstpost

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NASA chose Astrobotic Technology Inc – a Pittsburgh-based space robotics company – to launch NASA's Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover or VIPER to the Moon in late 2023. The $ 199.5 million contract between Astrobotics and NASA includes the price of the rocket to launch the mission and the vehicle that will land the spacecraft at the South Pole of the moon.

According to a report on The New York Times, the rover will be the latest in a series of robotic missions that NASA is funding as part of its renewed interest in the moon.

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Illustration of NASA Volatiles Investigating the Polar Rover Explorer (VIPER) on the Moon's Surface
Credits: NASA Ames / Daniel Rutter

NASA is trying to go to the moon again and relive the glory days of its Apollo mission. However, they also seek to create a more & # 39; sustainable presence & # 39; on Earth's satellite. This water-seeking robot should help lay the groundwork for future astronaut missions that will begin with the Artemis program in 2024. Astrobotic will be responsible for delivering the VIPER to the moon, which will include integration with its Griffin landing module, launched from Earth and landing on the Moon.

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This space vehicle is part of the Commercial Lunar Cargo Services (CLPS) that started in 2018 and is part of a change in direction that NASA undertook. The agency provides private companies with the resources and capital to develop the technology needed for a mission. The companies, in turn, launch payloads from NASA and are encouraged to transport other payloads as well. NASA believes that this approach is less expensive for them and also offers private companies the chance to grow and establish their place in the space industry.

SpaceX recently launched NASA astronauts Robert L. Behnken and Douglas G. Hurley to the International Space Station. It was the first time that any human being was launched into space by an organization other than a state agency.

O CLPS is similar to that of NASA Commercial Orbital Transport Service Contracts (COTS), Commercial Refueling Service Contracts (CRS) and the Commercial Crew Program.

An engineering model of the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, is tested at the Simulated Lunar Operations Laboratory at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. Image credit: NASA / Bridget Caswell, Alcyon Technical Services

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An engineering model of the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, is tested at the Simulated Lunar Operations Laboratory at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. Image credit: NASA / Bridget Caswell, Alcyon Technical Services

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The US space agency 14 commercial suppliers that can provide rockets, landers rovers and other scientific experiments to complete the mission. Each mission should cover end-to-end payload delivery services, including payload integration, mission operations, launching the Earth and landing on the Moon's surface.

NASA has three charges scheduled to land on various parts of the moon starting in 2021 and Astrobotic will make its first delivery of 11 charges for Lacus Mortis, a larger crater on the side near the moon.

"It is a huge honor and responsibility to be chosen by NASA to fulfill this mission of national importance," said John Thornton, CEO of Astrobotic. in a press release. “Astrobotic's lunar logistics services were created to open a new era on the Moon. Delivering VIPER in search of water and preparing the first human group since Apollo represents our mission as a company. "

What is VIPER?

The VIPER is a solar powered space vehicle that will land on the moon sometime in 2023 and will remain there for a period of 100 Earth Days.

Wake up for a report in The Verge, the space vehicle will land using the Astrobotic Griffin probe, 1.8 meters high and 4.5 meters in diameter. The space vehicle weighs about 453.5 kg and will have four scientific instruments on board. It will cover 19.3 km and prove the soil at the south pole of the moon. This is where water ice was found in the past. From India Chandrayaan mission had a Pragyan rover who should also wander in that area to try to find the ice in the water.

Versions of the VIPER's three water-hunting instruments will be sent to the Moon in previous CLPS deliveries in 2021 and 2022, in order to test their performance. The spacecraft will also have a drill to drill approximately 91 centimeters into the lunar surface.

NASA Associate Science Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen said in a press release, "We are doing something that has never been done before – testing the instruments on the Moon while the space vehicle is being developed. The VIPER and the many payloads that we will send to the lunar surface in the years to come will help us realize the Moon's vast scientific potential. . ”

The VIPER mission will include collecting data on water ice. It will be able to tell the location and concentration of ice at the south pole of the moon. This will help NASA create what they are calling & # 39; the first global water resource maps of the Moon & # 39 ;. The collected data will also help to make informed decisions at the astronaut's landing sites for the Artemis mission and will provide information about the evolution of the Moon and the Earth-Moon system.

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