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NASA’s VIPER rover in development for scouting mission to moon’s south pole
October 30, 2019 Stephen Clark


NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, is a mobile robot that will roam around the moon’s south pole looking for water ice. Credit: NASA Ames/Daniel Rutter

Building on a mission canceled last year, NASA is developing a mobile robot named VIPER for launch in 2022 to scout for water ice at the moon’s south pole, the same region where the agency aims to land astronauts by 2024.

The $250 million rover mission, developed by engineers and scientists at three NASA centers in California, Florida and Texas, will be delivered to the moon’s south pole by a commercial lander.

About the size of a golf cart, the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover will traverse several miles on the lunar surface, using its four instruments to survey the polar landscape and analyze the lunar soil’s water content.

“The key to living on the moon is water – the same as here on Earth,” said Daniel Andrews, the project manager of the VIPER mission and director of engineering at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. “Since the confirmation of lunar water ice ten years ago, the question now is if the moon could really contain the amount of resources we need to live off-world. This rover will help us answer the many questions we have about where the water is, and how much there is for us to use.”

NASA formally unveiled plans for the lunar south pole rover Oct. 25, soon after VIPER passed a mission-level requirements review by an independent NASA review panel, agency officials said. With the mission requirements now established, the VIPER team is gearing up for a preliminary design review next year, in preparation for  launch and delivery to the lunar surface in December 2022.

“This ambitious timeline was made possible because of the previous extensive technical work done for Resource Prospector,” team members said in response to questions from Spaceflight Now.

Resource Prospector, which consisted of a NASA-developed lander and rover, was canceled last year as the agency emphasized a new commercial approach to lunar exploration. NASA selected nine companies last November to compete for contracts to deliver scientific payloads to the moon using new commercially-developed robotic landers.

The VIPER rover will ride to the moon on a privately-owned lander procured through the Commercial Lunar Payload Services, or CLPS, program, NASA said.

The rover will be about the size of a golf cart and weigh around 770 pounds (350 kilograms), officials said.



This is a map showing the permanently shadowed regions (blue) that cover about three percent of the moon’s south pole. This map was generated using data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Credit: NASA

During a 100-day mission, VIPER will scout the same region targeted for a human landing in 2024 by NASA’s Artemis program.

“NASA’s priority for VIPER will be a region that contains a range of terrains that offer differing temperatures and light conditions in order to fully understand the nature of the water and volatiles therein,” the VIPER team wrote in a response to emailed questions. “The landing locations for the human landers have different specifications, driven by the specific needs of the human mission.”

In March, Vice President Mike Pence challenged NASA to land the first woman and the next man at the moon’s south pole by the end of 2024. Since then, the agency has fast-tracked development of new human-rated landers to accomplish a human return to the moon’s surface within five years.

NASA plans to select up to four companies late this year or in early 2020 to begin development of a human-rated lander. Late next year, NASA intends to choose two of the companies to proceed into full-scale development for landing missions in 2024 and 2025.

But that schedule assumes Congress allocates funding to cover the multibillion-dollar cost of accelerating the lunar program from its previous targeted landing date in 2018.

Under NASA’s current planning, the agency’s Space Launch System and Orion crew capsule will launch on an unpiloted test flight in 2021, followed by a mission around the moon on the next SLS/Orion mission. Astronauts on the third SLS/Orion mission, designated Artemis 3, would attempt to land on the moon after rendezvousing with a lander already launched into lunar orbit by a commercial rocket.

Scientists discovered evidence of water ice bound in soil at the moon’s poles using a NASA-funded instrument on India’s Chandrayaan spacecraft, which operated in lunar orbit from November 2008 through August 2009.



The image shows the distribution of surface ice at the moon’s south pole (left) and north pole (right), detected by NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper instrument. Blue represents the ice locations, plotted over an image of the lunar surface, where the gray scale corresponds to surface temperature (darker representing colder areas and lighter shades indicating warmer zones). The ice is concentrated at the darkest and coldest locations, in the shadows of craters. This is the first time scientists have directly observed definitive evidence of water ice on the moon’s surface. Credit: NASA

NASA crashed a satellite and a spent Centaur rocket stage into a crater near the south pole in 2009. Data gathered by that mission found the lunar materials excavated by the impacts contained water, providing scientists with another data point to confirm the presence of ice at the moon’s polar regions.

Water ice on the moon could be tapped by future missions to generate rocket propellant, breathing air and other resources.

“It’s incredibly exciting to have a rover going to the new and unique environment of the south pole to discover where exactly we can harvest that water,” said Anthony Colaprete, VIPER’s project scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center, which is leading the VIPER mission. “VIPER will tell us which locations have the highest concentrations and how deep below the surface to go to get access to water.”

VIPER will carry a neutron spectrometer to sense the presence of water below the lunar surface, and a drill provided by Honeybee Robotics will collect samples from a depth of up to a meter, or more than 3 feet, for analysis by on-board instruments.


Source: https://spaceflightnow.com/2019/10/30/nasas-viper-rover-in-development-for-scouting-mission-to-moons-south-pole/
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Astrobotic wins NASA contract to deliver VIPER lunar rover
by Jeff Foust — June 11, 2020 [SN]
Updated June 12 with the number of companies that bid on the VIPER task order.


Astrobotic will deliver the VIPER rover, seen in this illustration atop the company's Griffin lunar lander, to the south polar region of the moon in late 2023 under a CLPS task order valued at $199.5 million. Credit: Astrobotic

WASHINGTON — NASA has selected Astrobotic to deliver a rover to the surface of the moon in late 2023 to prospect for water ice that could support future human missions.

NASA announced June 11 it awarded Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic a task order valued at $199.5 million for the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) mission. The task order is part of the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program, where NASA purchases services from companies for the delivery of payloads to the lunar surface, rather than buying landers themselves.

Astrobotic, who won one of the first CLPS awards a little more than a year ago for landing a set of payloads on the Moon using its Peregrine lander, will use its larger Griffin lander for VIPER, which weighs about 450 kilograms. The company, which will fly Peregrine on the first launch of United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket in 2021, plans to select a launch provider for the VIPER mission later this year.

VIPER is designed to operate for at least 100 Earth days at the south polar region of the moon, looking for water ice deposits that may exist on or below the surface in permanently shadowed regions, which do not see direct sunlight and thus remain cold enough for ice. While previous missions, like the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite in 2009, detected evidence of water ice at the poles, how much water ice there is, and in what form, remains unknown.

“The VIPER mission will search for ice, a resource that brings us a significant step closer to NASA’s ultimate goal of a sustainable long-term presence on the moon,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science, in a call with reporters about the selection of Astrobotic.

NASA announced its intent to fly VIPER last October, leveraging work that had been done on a previous lunar rover mission called Resource Prospector that the agency canceled in 2018. At that time, NASA expected to launch VIPER, which had an estimated cost of $250 million, in late 2022.

Agency officials said changes to the rover’s design to accommodate a 100-day mission, versus the 14-day lifetime of the Resource Prospector, pushed the mission’s launch back to late 2023. Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s planetary science division, said in the media call that the mission is still approaching confirmation, where the agency sets formal cost and schedule estimates, and did not give an updated cost estimate for the rover.

Landing at the south polar region of the moon will require high precision to place the lander down near a location that scientists believe may have water ice deposits. John Thornton, chief executive of Astrobotic, said it plans to demonstrate a landing precision of 100 meters on its first lander mission that will be used for the VIPER mission, and will make use of a hazard avoidance system as the lander approaches the surface.

VIPER is the fourth mission under NASA’s CLPS program. In May 2019 NASA issued the first two task orders to Astrobotic and Intuitive Machines, contracting with them to carry suites of experiments to the moon on landers scheduled for launch in 2021. The agency issued a task order to a third company, Orbit Beyond, but that company returned the task order two months later because internal business issues prevented it from proceeding.

NASA awarded a CLPS task order to Masten Space Systems April 8 to carry another set of experiments. This mission, like VIPER, will go to the south pole of the moon, with a launch scheduled for late 2022.

Steve Clarke, who recently left his position as deputy associate administrator for exploration in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate to be deputy associate administrator for aeronautics, declined to say how many of the 14 companies in the CLPS program bid on the VIPER task order. “We had a healthy response from the pool of our CLPS providers,” he said. Zurbuchen later tweeted that 7 of the 14 companies submitted bids, a fraction that is not surprising given that the rover is larger than the payload capacities of some companies’ landers.

VIPER is the second CLPS win for Astrobotic and also its second lander mission overall. “We are actively in the commercial market and, at this time, not announcing a launch in between” the Peregrine and Griffin missions, Thornton said, “but we certainly have a lot of commercial conversations going on right now.”

CLPS is intended to leverage any commercial interest in lunar landing missions by making NASA just one of potentially many customers for commercial landers. The agency has also shown a willingness to accept risk on early CLPS missions, with Zurbuchen espousing a “shots on goal” philosophy that accepts some amount of failures.

“I think the paradigm of taking shots on goal is really reflected in our entire plan,” he said in the call. “We all need to recognize that we’re taking more risks.”

Thornton, though, rejected the notion that this approach means only a “50-50” chance of a successful landing, particularly for a larger, more expensive mission like VIPER for which there is no spare. “Certainly, from a company perspective, a 50-50 risk profile is far too risky for us,” he said. “We are doing everything we possibly can to get that much, much, much higher.”


Source: https://spacenews.com/astrobotic-wins-nasa-contract-to-deliver-viper-lunar-rover/
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Odp: [SN] Astrobotic selects Falcon Heavy to launch NASA’s VIPER lunar rover
« Odpowiedź #2 dnia: Kwiecień 17, 2021, 08:12 »
Astrobotic selects Falcon Heavy to launch NASA’s VIPER lunar rover
by Jeff Foust — April 13, 2021


Astrobotic will launch its Griffin lunar lander, carrying NASA’s VIPER lunar rover, on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy in 2023. Credit: SpaceX

WASHINGTON — Astrobotic has signed a contract with SpaceX for the launch of its Griffin lunar lander, carrying a NASA lunar rover, on a Falcon Heavy in 2023.

Astrobotic announced April 13 that it selected SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy for its Griffin Mission 1 lunar lander mission, which will deliver the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) spacecraft to the south pole of the moon in late 2023. Astrobotic won a NASA competition through the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program last year to transport VIPER on its Griffin lunar lander.

“Getting to the moon isn’t just about building a spacecraft, but having a complete mission solution. SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy completes our Griffin Mission 1 solution by providing a proven launch vehicle to carry us on our trajectory to the moon,” Daniel Gillies, director of Griffin Mission 1 at Astrobotic, said in a statement.

Astrobotic declined to disclose the terms of the deal. SpaceX publishes a list price of $90 million on its website for Falcon Heavy, although some government contracts for Falcon Heavy missions have been significantly more expensive. Astrobotic also declined to identify what other launch options it considered for the mission.

VIPER is a NASA mission to investigate permanently shadowed regions of craters at the lunar south pole that may contain deposits of water ice that could serve as resources for future crewed missions. It is designed to operate for 100 days after landing.

NASA originally planned to launch VIPER in 2022, with a mission cost of $250 million. However, NASA postponed the launch to late 2023 to provde more time for work to increase VIPER’s mission life from 14 to 100 days. That, in turn, drove up the cost of VIPER to $433.5 million, NASA disclosed in March.

VIPER is the biggest mission that is part of CLPS, a NASA initiative to purchase payload accommodations on commercial lunar landers. Astrobotic won a $199.5 million task order in June 2020 to deliver VIPER to the lunar surface on its Griffin lander.

Most of the landers flying CLPS missions selected to date will launch on SpaceX. Intuitive Machines, which won CLPS task orders for two lander missions, will launch each on Falcon 9 vehicles late this year and in 2022. Masten Space Systems selected SpaceX to provide launch services for its XL-1 lander mission, which won a CLPS award for a late 2022 mission.

Astrobotic will launch its first CLPS mission, a smaller lunar lander called Peregrine, on the inaugural launch of United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur currently scheduled for late this year. Firefly Aerospace, which won the most recent CLPS award in January, has not selected a launch provider yet for its Blue Ghost lander, but noted the lander is too large to launch on the company’s own Alpha rocket.

The Astrobotic contract adds to a growing backlog for the Falcon Heavy, which has not flown since the Space Test Program (STP) 2 mission in June 2019. The next Falcon Heavy launch is expected no earlier than July, carrying a classified payload for the U.S. Space Force. Another Falcon Heavy launch for the Space Force is scheduled for late this year.

SpaceX has won NASA contracts for Falcon Heavy, including the launch of the Psyche mission the metallic asteroid of the same name in 2022 and, in February, the first two elements of the lunar Gateway in 2024. Falcon Heavy is also the front-runner for the ongoing competition to launch the Europa Clipper mission after NASA concluded that mission could not launch on the Space Launch System as originally planned.

Gillies, the Astrobotic manager for Griffin Mission 1, previously worked at SpaceX, where he was a mission integrator for the STP-2 Falcon Heavy launch. “Having previously sat on the other side of the table as a former SpaceX mission manager, I am fully aware of SpaceX’s capabilities and processes and am excited to be working with SpaceX on a mission once again,” he said.


Source: https://spacenews.com/astrobotic-selects-falcon-heavy-to-launch-nasas-viper-lunar-rover/

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Odp: Artykuły o VIPER (Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover)
« Odpowiedź #3 dnia: Wrzesień 23, 2021, 13:17 »
NASA picks landing site for VIPER lunar rover
by Jeff Foust — September 21, 2021 [SN]


NASA said Sept. 20 it selected a crater near the lunar south pole as the landing site for a rover called VIPER that will look for water ice at and below the surface. Credit: NASA/Daniel Rutter

WASHINGTON — NASA has selected a crater near the south pole of the moon as the landing site for a robotic rover to search for water ice that could be a resource for future human expeditions.

NASA announced Sept. 20 that its Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) mission will land near the western edge of Nobile Crater, near the lunar south pole. VIPER is scheduled to arrive there in late 2023, delivered by Astrobotic’s Griffin lunar lander on a mission arranged through NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program.

Source: https://spacenews.com/nasa-picks-landing-site-for-viper-lunar-rover/

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Odp: Artykuły o VIPER (Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover)
« Odpowiedź #3 dnia: Wrzesień 23, 2021, 13:17 »

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Odp: Artykuły o VIPER (Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover)
« Odpowiedź #4 dnia: Lipiec 21, 2022, 06:33 »
NASA delays VIPER lunar rover launch by a year
by Jeff Foust — July 19, 2022 [SN]


NASA is delaying the launch of its VIPER lunar rover by a year to conduct additional testing of Astrobotic's Griffin lunar lander, which will deliver VIPER to the south polar region of the moon. Credit: Astrobotic

WASHINGTON — NASA has delayed the launch of an ice-prospecting lunar rover by a year to perform more testing of its commercial lander, the agency announced July 18.

NASA said it is delaying the launch of its Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) mission from November 2023 to November 2024. The rover is designed to land near Nobile Crater in the south polar regions of the moon to look for water ice, of interest to both lunar scientists and as a resource for future human missions.
https://spacenews.com/nasa-delays-viper-lunar-rover-launch-by-a-year/
« Ostatnia zmiana: Lipiec 21, 2022, 13:07 wysłana przez Orionid »

Polskie Forum Astronautyczne

Odp: Artykuły o VIPER (Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover)
« Odpowiedź #4 dnia: Lipiec 21, 2022, 06:33 »