ASTROBOTIC Awarded $199 Million Contract to Deliver NASA VIPER to Moon

An artist's rendering of VIPER exiting from the Griffin Lander. Photo: Astrobotic
An artist's rendering of VIPER exiting from the Griffin Lander. Photo: Astrobotic

Pittsburgh, PA – Astrobotic, the world’s leading lunar logistics service provider, has been selected by NASA to deliver the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, to the south pole of the Moon in 2023.

Astrobotic CEO John Thornton: “Today marks another exciting milestone for a new era of science, exploration, and commerce on the Moon. Astrobotic is so thrilled and grateful to be selected by NASA to deliver the VIPER rover. The rover will no doubt be a historic mission. It’s findings on Lunar water resources could have far-reaching implications for enabling our future in space.”

Astrobotic will provide an end-to-end delivery for VIPER on board the company’s Griffin lunar lander through a $199.5 million contract awarded under the NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, or CLPS. Griffin’s delivery of VIPER will be Astrobotic’s second CLPS delivery, following the company’s Peregrine lander delivery in 2021. In addition, Astrobotic’s MoonRanger rover was previously selected by NASA for delivery to the Moon in 2022 on the lander of another CLPS partner.

Thornton: “When we founded Astrobotic thirteen years ago, we did so with the aim of making the Moon accessible to the world. This opportunity to deliver VIPER to the pole of the Moon with our Griffin Lander is truly a dream come true.”

Astrobotic was one of the companies vying for the $20 Million Google Lunar X Prize. Although they failed to develop a lander in time for the competition deadline, they have remained active in the Lunar project and have several commercial successes.

The Griffin lunar lander is Astrobotic’s medium capacity lander product line, and is capable of delivering up to 500 kg of mass to the lunar surface. Griffin uses many of the same subsystems and approaches employed by the Peregrine lander, which will fly two years before VIPER. Both lander product lines put a heavy emphasis on safe and reliable delivery of customer payloads to the Moon.

When VIPER disembarks from Griffin’s ramps onto the Moon, it will survey the surface and subsurface for water ice, which could be used for breathable air and rocket propellant by future deep space explorers. VIPER’s mapping of lunar water ice could be the first step toward utilizing resources in the space environment – rather than carting them all from Earth – to enable more affordable and sustainable space exploration.

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