NASA delays launch of water-hunting Moon rover by a full year

Shawn Knight

Posts: 14,324   +163
Staff member
What just happened? NASA has delayed the launch of the upcoming Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (Viper) by a full year in order to conduct additional ground testing of the Griffin landing module.

In 2020, NASA contracted Astrobotic of Pittsburgh to build and deliver a rover to the Moon by late 2023. The rover will be tasked with searching the lunar surface for ice and other potential resources, and will return data to help scientists learn more about the origin and distribution of water on the nearby satellite.

The original contract was valued at $199.5 million, but with this most recent extension and others, it now totals $320.4 million.

The Griffin lunar lander will deliver the rover to the lunar surface as part of NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative. CLPS is a key cog in NASA's Artemis lunar exploration plan, both of which will help lay the foundation for future visits to the Moon and beyond.

Knowing the location of valuable resources like water could help NASA in selecting future landing sites. Others could use data from Viper when building underground bases or artificial gravity colonies, and local resources could make it easier for future astronauts to travel to Mars.

Viper is the largest and most sophisticated science payload to be delivered to the Moon through CLPS, so they want to make sure all of their ducks are in a row. It'll weigh around 1,000 pounds and pack four science instruments capable of analyzing soil samples. An integrated drill will allow the rover to bore down nearly three feet into the lunar surface.

The rover is expected to spend around 100 days exploring the Moon's South Pole, but it'd all be for naught if the rover can't make it there safely. NASA said the additional testing will reduce the overall risk associated with delivery.

Viper is now on track to be delivered to the South Pole of the Moon by November 2024. Fingers crossed that we won't see any more delays (or budget hikes) between now and then.

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psycros

Posts: 4,333   +6,322
I assume this thing is going to be exploring the ice field they found a few years back to get a solid idea how much water is there, how pure it is and so on. I hope I live long enough to see permanent off-world settlements.
 

yRaz

Posts: 4,605   +5,548
I assume this thing is going to be exploring the ice field they found a few years back to get a solid idea how much water is there, how pure it is and so on. I hope I live long enough to see permanent off-world settlements.
can you imagine how bad the GPU shortage would be on the moon?
 

texasrattler

Posts: 1,325   +637
NASA and budgets. LOL. Like they worry about money. Come on. That won't ever be a real issue. That's just a public dollar figure, it actually means nothing.

But still won't show or talk about the Base on the Dark Side of the Moon.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 9,072   +8,104
I really don't understand why NASA dosen't follow the contracting guidelines that most (not all) Govt. agencies have to follow. A contract it let and the contractor must deliver on time and at promised cost/fee. Otherwise we continue to see this sort of thing where deliveries are delayed and doubled, tripled, whatever they think they can get away with .....