NASA postponed the VIPER flight, which previously had a launch target of November 2023. This delay was certainly not without reason.
VIPER is a special NASA robot they designed to hunt for water on the lunar surface. NASA has earlier targeted to launch this robot.
However, for some reason NASA had to delay the launch of its robot a year after the original plan.
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Why did NASA delay VIPER flights?
VIPER, which stands for Volatile Investigation Polar Exploration Rover, is a NASA robot with a launch schedule of November 2023.
The robotic launch is part of NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to send humans back to the Moon.
Basically this robot explorer is a formidable seeker. VIPER also has specialized agile wheels, drills and science equipment.
NASA designed the VIPER robot to hunt for water ice that is believed to be on the lunar surface. This robot will be tasked to find out how much water is scattered and what is its shape.
That way, if there are missions to mine lunar water in the future, they already have a better idea of how to find them and what equipment they’ll need.
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delayed to 2024
According to The Verge, to be able to bring VIPER to the Moon, NASA will have to contract a company called Astrobotic through the CLPS program.
They are useful initiatives in helping private companies build commercial landing platforms that sit on the Moon.
Astrobotic itself is currently working on a lunar landing robot fleet project. They plan to use the Griffin landings and take VIPER to the Moon in the future.
However, on Monday (07/18/2022), the space agency announced that it had requested additional testing of the Griffin landing, which caused NASA to delay VIPER’s flight to the Moon.
NASA postponed the launch of its investigative robot, slated for launch in late 2024, a year after the previous date.
value added contract
The change in the launch date of VIPER caused NASA to pay Astrobotic a large additional contract price.
At least NASA provided an additional US$67.8 million, bringing the company’s total contract value to US$32.4 million in the VIPER mission.
Although the VIPER flight was delayed, NASA still plans to carry out an instrumented version of the robotic flight.
Later the robot will make two commercial landings that will land on the Moon later this year. One of the lander is currently being developed by Intuitive Machines in Houston.
While the second landing is also smaller, named Peregrine. This Peregrine device is currently being developed by Astrobotic.
This is the reason why NASA has postponed VIPER flights to the moon. At least now NASA has time to make more thorough preparations for launching its robots to the Moon so that the risk of failure is even lower.