When the Moon Dust Settles, It Won’t Settle in VIPER’s Wheels

Robotics engineer Jason Schuler performs a preliminary test to prepare for dust testing of various seals for the wheel motors on NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, March 17, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The test takes place in a bin holding more than 120 tons of simulated lunar regolith – loose dirt, dust and rock – that is used to help simulate the properties of the lunar surface. (Credits: NASA)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Moon dust is a formidable adversary – the grains are as fine as powder and as sharp as tiny shards of glass. During the Apollo 17 mission to the Moon, the astronauts lamented how the dust found its way into everything, coating their spacesuits and jamming the shoulder joints, getting inside their lunar habitat and even causing symptoms of a temporary “lunar dust hay fever” in astronaut Harrison Schmitt. Those symptoms fortunately went away quickly – but the problem of Moon dust remains for future missions.

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NASA Awards $75.9 Million Contract to Masten Space Systems to Deliver Payloads to Moon

Masten’s XL-1 lunar lander will deliver science and technology payloads to the Moon’s South Pole in 2022. (Credits: Masten Space Systems)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected Masten Space Systems of Mojave, California, to deliver and operate eight payloads – with nine science and technology instruments – to the Moon’s South Pole in 2022, to help lay the foundation for human expeditions to the lunar surface beginning in 2024.

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Moon Thrusters Withstand Over 60 Hot-Fire Tests

NASA and Frontier Aerospace are developing next-generation thrusters for use on Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander. In March 2020, thruster prototypes performed over 60 hot-fire tests in a vacuum chamber. (Credits: Frontier Aerospace)

NIAGARA FALLS, Calif. (NASA PR) — Future Artemis lunar landers could use next-generation thrusters, the small rocket engines used to make alterations in a spacecraft’s flight path or altitude, to enter lunar orbit and descend to the surface. Before the engines make the trip to the Moon, helping deliver new science instruments and technology demonstrations, they’re being tested here on Earth.

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NASA Asks Commercial Moon Delivery Partners to Fly Rover to Search for Water Ice

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. The VIPER mission will give us surface-level detail of where the water is and how much is available for us to use. This will bring us a significant step closer towards NASA’s ultimate goal of a sustainable, long-term presence on the Moon – making it possible to eventually explore Mars and beyond. (Credit: NASA Ames/Daniel Rutter)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA is asking its 14 Commercial Lunar Payload Services companies to bid on flying VIPER to the Moon by 2023. VIPER, or Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, is a golf-cart sized mobile robot that will look for water ice at one of the Moon’s poles. 

During its mission, VIPER will roam several miles and use its four science instruments — including a 1-meter drill — to sample various soil environments. It will collect up to 100 days of data that will be used to inform the first global water resource maps of the Moon. 

VIPER will help NASA get a close-up view of the location and concentration of water ice that could eventually be harvested to sustain human exploration on the Moon, and helppave the way for astronaut missions to the Moon beginning in 2024.

The ability to send payloads of varying sizes to the Moon is a key part of NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration efforts. NASA already has awarded two companies with missions to deliver science to the Moon in 2021, and issued a separate task order in early February for companies to bid on delivering eight additional science payloads in 2022.

The Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative is leveraging the capabilities of commercial industry to send scientific instruments and technology demonstrations to the Moon quickly. NASA expects to issue a regular series of task order proposal requests to expand the scope of agency payloads requiring transportation services to the lunar surface ahead of human landings.

Future payloads could include other rovers, power sources, additional science experiments, or other equipment and technologies needed for astronaut expeditions on the lunar surface.

http://www.nasa.gov/viper

https://www.nasa.gov/content/commercial-lunar-payload-services

Blue Moon Program Fact Sheet

Blue Moon crewed landing vehicle. (Credit: Blue Origin)

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin released a fact sheet about its programs when it opened its new Huntsville manufacturing facility on Monday. Below is an excerpt on the company’s advanced development programs and Blue Moon lunar lander.

BLUE ORIGIN FACT SHEET

Advanced Development Programs

Blue Origin is developing advanced technologies to enable space exploration and development, including a NASA Tipping Point contract to mature cryogenic liquid propulsion for integrated large-scale lunar lander applications and several years of progress on the Blue Moon Lunar Lander and its BE-7 lunar landing engine.

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First Commercial Moon Delivery Assignments to Advance Artemis

The Moon as seen from the International Space Station (Credit: ESA/NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA has finalized the first 16 science experiments and technology demonstrations, ranging from chemistry to communications, to be delivered to the surface of the Moon under the Artemis program. Scheduled to fly next year, the payloads will launch aboard the first two lander deliveries of the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative. These deliveries will help pave the way for sending the first woman and the next man to the lunar surface by 2024.

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NASA Shares Mid-Sized Robotic Lunar Lander Concept with Industry

Illustration shows the mid-sized lander on the lunar surface. (Credits: NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — As NASA presses forward with the agency’s mission to the Moon, Mars and beyond, the development of top-tier technology is critical to success. With emphasis on lunar exploration and scientific investigation, the desire to deliver a wide variety of payloads to the Moon has increased.

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Tyvak Selected for NASA’s CLPS Lunar Program

Lunar lander (Credit: Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems)

IRVINE, Calif., Nov. 18, 2019 (Tyvak PR) — Tyvak is honored to be selected by NASA to participate in the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. Tyvak’s offering provides NASA with a lander option to host payloads and perform science investigations on the lunar surface, paving the way to return to the Moon.

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A Look at NASA’s New CLPS Partners’ Vehicles

SpaceX

Starship on the moon. (Credit: SpaceX)

Blue Origin

Blue Moon lunar lander (Credit: Blue Origin)

Sierra Nevada Corporation

Lunar lander (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Ceres Robotics

Robotic lunar lander (Credit: Ceres Robotics)

Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems

Lunar lander (Credit: Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems)

Ozmens’ SNC Awarded NASA Contract to Support Artemis

Lunar Lander (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

SPARKS, Nev., November 18, 2019 (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), the global aerospace and national security leader owned by Eren and Fatih Ozmen, has been awarded a NASA contract under the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) on-ramp procurement.  The contract positions SNC to support NASA’s Artemis lunar program.

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Intuitive Machines Selects SpaceX Falcon 9 to Launch Lunar Lander

Intuitive Machines of Houston has proposed to fly as many as five payloads to a scientifically intriguing dark spot on the Moon. (Credit: Intuitive Machines)

HOUSTON, October 2, 2019 (Intuitive Machines PR) — Houston-based Intuitive Machines selected SpaceX to launch its lunar lander, Nova-C, to the Moon in 2021 on a Falcon 9 rocket.

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NASA, JAXA Issue Joint Statement Pledging to Explore the Moon

Artist’s rendering of an ascent vehicle separating from a descent vehicle and departing the lunar surface. (Credit: NASA)

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)


Joint Statement on Cooperation in Lunar Exploration

During their September 24, 2019, meeting at JAXA Headquarters in Tokyo, NASA Administrator James Bridenstine and JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa welcomed the ongoing engagement between their agencies to realize JAXA’s participation in NASA’s Artemis program and vision for the participation of Japanese astronauts in lunar exploration.

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Deep Space Systems Files Protest Over NASA CLPs Task Order

The Moon as seen from the International Space Station (Credit: ESA/NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Deep Space Systems has filed an appeal with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) over NASA’s decision to award Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contracts to three rival companies.

On May 31, NASA awarded contracts worth $253.5 million to Astrobotic, Intuitive Machines and OrbitBeyond to carry up to 23 payloads to the moon on three commercial missions scheduled for launch between September 2020 and July 2021.

Deep Space Systems, which is based in Littleton, Colo., filed a bid protest with GAO on June 24. The government watchdog is scheduled to render a decision on the protest on Oct. 2.

The GAO website does not provide any details on the reason for the protest. Deep Space Systems has not responded to requests for comment.

NASA terminated its $97 million contract with OrbitBeyond on July 28 after the company informed the space agency that internal corporate challenges would prevent it from delivering its payloads to the lunar surface in a timely manner. The company had targeted a landing in September 2020.

NASA’s CLPS program pays companies to deliver payloads to the moon rather than having the space agency commission and build its own landers and orbiters. Nine companies are qualified to bid on CLPS task orders.

NASA Announces Call for Next Phase of Commercial Lunar Payload Services

Commercial landers like this will carry science and technology payloads, including one built by UC Berkeley, to the lunar surface, paving the way for NASA astronauts to land on the Moon by 2024. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has announced the latest opportunity for industry to participate in its Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) efforts to deliver science and technology payloads to and near the Moon.

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