Astrobotic has received a $200M contract to send a NASA rover to the moon’s south pole as part of the agency’s resource-mapping mission in late 2023.
The Pittsburgh-based company will launch the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover and integrate its lander for the 100-day mission as part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, the agency said Thursday.
VIPER will traverse the lunar surface to detect water resources, collect samples and collate data meant to inform NASA’s plans to establish a sustainable human presence 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,” noted Astrobotic CEO John Thornton.
Astrobotic is slated to make the first delivery of related instruments to the moon in 2021. NASA plans to launch initial versions of VIPER over the next two years in preparation for the mission.