(Photo courtesy cnn.com)
NASA has awarded Pittsburgh-based space robotics startup Astrobotic with nearly $200 million to fly its VIPER rover to the moon.
Astrobotic must be over the moon!
VIPER stands for “Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover.” Its job is to hunt for deposits of frozen water on the moon. Astrobotic will be responsible for launching the rover and landing it near the moon’s south pole in late 2023.
- Astrobotic will use its Griffin lander to deliver the VIPER rover to the lunar surface
This is a key intermediary step for NASA’s Artemis program, which intends to return astronauts to the moon by 2024.
Having a source of water will be an important part of establishing a long-term sustainable base on the moon, since it can provide the necessary ingredients for a self-contained lunar fuel production facility.
“The VIPER rover and the commercial partnership that will deliver it to the Moon are a prime example of how the scientific community and US industry are making NASA’s lunar exploration vision a reality,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.