NASA to Unveil Launch Services Partner for ‘VIPER’ Lunar Research Mission

NASA is set to hold a teleconference on Wednesday to announce its selected payload delivery services provider that will support the agency’s mission to study the moon’s south pole.

NASA said Tuesday that the contractor will launch the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover to the moon as part of the agency’s research into establishing a long-term and sustainable lunar presence in line with the Artemis program.

VIPER, which is valued at $250 million, seeks to use a robotic rover to collect soil samples and detect subsurface water ice on the lunar south pole throughout a 100-day period starting in 2022.

In October, NASA Administrator and a 2019 Wash100 Award recipient Jim Bridenstine detailed plans to select a commercial partner to provide a lunar lander for the resource-mapping mission as part of the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program.

NASA announced that it expanded its pool of bidders for the CLPS effort to 14 companies earlier this year.

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