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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.

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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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