NASA Seeks More Lunar Science, Technology Experiments for Artemis Program

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

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — With five robotic flights to the Moon already booked through 2023, and a sixth award expected soon, NASA is seeking suites of new science investigations and technology experiments for future commercial lunar deliveries as part of the Artemis program.

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Astrobotic & University of Pittsburgh’s SHREC Partnering for Space Technologies Research

Teams will work together to translate concepts into tangible innovations that will support lunar landings, rover missions, satellite servicing, and more.

PITTSBURGH (Astrobotic PR) – Astrobotic and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Center for Space, High-performance, and Resilient Computing (SHREC) are pleased to announce a partnership to develop new software and hardware technologies for future space applications.

The SHREC consortium, led by the University of Pittsburgh, is an NSF Industry-University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC) and will work together with Astrobotic by pairing first-class academic researchers with engineering teams to translate concepts into tangible innovations that will support lunar landings, rover missions, satellite servicing, and more.

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VIPER Rover Will Get Driving Headlights

Using a special lab at NASA’s Ames Research Center designed to mimic lunar terrain as it would appear in different areas at the Moon’s poles, the VIPER team tests out lighting systems for the rover with a very low-angle illumination simulating the Sun. (Credits: NASA/Dominic Hart)

MOFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — As it journeys into some of the darkest and coldest spots in the solar system, NASA’s new water-hunting Moon rover, VIPER, will need some very robust headlights to light the way.

In the extremes of light and dark found on the Moon, shadowed and lit areas are in such high contrast that any contours in the landscape are effectively invisible in the darkness. To navigate this world, VIPER’s rover drivers will rely on a system of rover-mounted lights and cameras to steer clear of boulders, descend steep declines into craters and avoid other potentially mission-fatal dangers.

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NASA Selects Intuitive Machines to Land Water-Measuring Payload on the Moon

NASA has selected Intuitive Machines to deliver a drill combined with a mass spectrometer to the Moon. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA has awarded Intuitive Machines of Houston approximately $47 million to deliver a drill combined with a mass spectrometer to the Moon by December 2022 under the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative. The delivery of the Polar Resources Ice Mining Experiment known as PRIME-1 will help NASA search for ice at the Moon’s South Pole and, for the first time, harvest ice from below the surface.

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ESA Selects Thales Alenia Space to Build Two Modules for Lunar Gateway

(Credit: Thales Alenia Space/Briot)

Turin, October, 14 2020 – Thales Alenia Space, the joint company between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), will develop two key modules for the upcoming Lunar Orbital Platform–Gateway (LOP-G): I-HAB (International Habitat) and the ESPRIT communications and refueling module.

These two modules are the European contribution for this Gateway. The first tranche of I-HAB contract, (worth 36 million euros, the global amount being 327 million euros), has been signed with the European Space Agency (ESA), while ESPRIT development has already started under Authorization To Proceed (ATP) with a contract signature expected by the end of the year.

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How do we get There from Here? With Suborbital Flight Testing

Image shows Trona Pinnacles near California’s NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center during Jan. 31 Super Blue Blood Moon. Trona Pinnacles is an unusual geological feature of the state’s Desert National Conservation. (Credits: NASA / Lauren Hughes)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — Standing here on Earth, on a clear night we can look to the sky and see the destination for NASA’s Artemis program: the Moon. Seemingly close, but still quite far. Yet the space between us and that source of fascination is ripe with possibilities for helping mature the technologies we will need to get there, stay there, and venture beyond to Mars.

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Astrobotic Awarded $199.5 Million Contract to Deliver NASA’s VIPER Rover to Moon

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)

PITTSBURGH (Astrobotic PR)  – 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.

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NASA Selects Astrobotic to Fly Water-Hunting VIPER Rover to the Moon

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. (Credit: NASA Ames/Daniel Rutter)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has awarded Astrobotic of Pittsburgh $199.5 million to deliver NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) to the Moon’s South Pole in late 2023.

The water-seeking mobile VIPER robot will help pave the way for astronaut missions to the lunar surface beginning in 2024 and will bring NASA a step closer to developing a sustainable, long-term presence on the Moon as part of the agency’s Artemis program.

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NASA to Announce Selection of Company to Fly VIPER Rover to Moon

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 will announce the commercial provider selected to deliver NASA’s new water-hunting mobile robot, the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER), to the South Pole of the Moon during a media teleconference at 2:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday, June 10. 

As the first resource-mapping mission on the surface of another world, VIPER will help pave the way for a new era of human missions to the lunar surface and will bring NASA a step closer to developing a sustainable, long-term robotic and human presence on the Moon as part of the Artemis program.

The teleconference audio will stream live at:

https://www.nasa.gov/live

Supporting materials also will be available at nasa.gov/live.

VIPER’s delivery to the Moon is part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative, an innovative, service-based, competitive acquisition approach that enables rapid, affordable, and frequent access to the lunar surface via a growing market of American commercial providers. The selected company will be responsible for end-to-end services for delivery of VIPER, including integration with its lander, launch from Earth, and landing in a polar region on the Moon in late 2023.

For more information about NASA’s VIPER mission, visit:

https://nasa.gov/viper

VIPER Moon Rover’s Instruments Tested for Early Lunar Flight

Engineers at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley assemble the Near-Infrared Volatile Spectrometer System in preparation for its 2021 flight to the Moon. While assembling the instrument inside the NIRVSS clean room, integration engineer Amanda Cook uses ultraviolet light to inspect the four infrared detectors on the NIRVSS Longwave Calibration Sensor for cleanliness, before fastening the board into its enclosure. (Credits: NASA / Ames Research Center / Dominic Hart)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — When NASA’s new Moon rover, VIPER, lands on the lunar surface to begin its hunt for water ice at the poles, it will be equipped for the job with instruments that have already been battle-tested in this harsh environment.

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NASA Releases PRISM Call for Potential Lunar Surface Investigations

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 hopes to capture a broader spectrum of information from the scientific community for potential future payloads to deliver to the lunar surface through the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative.

Responses to the new Payloads and Research Investigations on the Surface of the Moon (PRISM) request for information (RFI) will help NASA generate an internal database of investigations that could ultimately make up the manifest of future CLPS deliveries. In addition, the information collected will help determine future CLPS landing sites and new lander capabilities that need to be developed to broaden the spectrum of future lunar surface investigations.

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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 Wants You to Send it Your Mini Moon Payload Designs

Credit: NASA

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Future exploration of the Moon and beyond will require tools of all shapes and sizes – from sweeping orbiters to the tiniest of rovers. In addition to current planned scientific rovers like the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover,  or  VIPER, NASA could one day send even smaller rovers to help scout the Moon’s surface.

These tiny robots would provide mission flexibility and collect key information about the lunar surface, its resources and the environment. The data collected by these rovers would be helpful for future lunar endeavors and NASA’s Artemis program.

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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

NASA Budget Proposal Laser Focused on the Moon

Astronauts on a future lunar walk. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Determined to land astronauts on the moon in time for the 2024 presidential election, the Trump Administration has proposed boosting NASA’s budget by 12 percent, an increase that includes $3.37 billion program for a human lander.

The $25.2 billion plan for fiscal year 2021 is $2.69 billion above the current spending level. More than half the amount, $12.95 billion, would be spent on human space operations in Earth orbit and preparing for missions to the moon.

How the proposal will fair in Congress is unclear. To boost Artemis spending, the Administration has proposed a number of cuts that Congress has rejected in previous Trump budgets. Those reductions include:

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