NASA has just announced the postponement of its VIPER lunar mission, which consists of studying the presence of water in the form of ice on the Moon, to November 2024. NASA explains that it wants to “ complete additional requested tests “.
NASA’s VIPER mission is falling behind schedule. ” The additional tests aim to reduce the overall risk of VIPER landing on the Moon Nasa said on July 18, 2022, in a statement explaining the postponement of its mission to 2024.
As a reminder, VIPER (Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover) has a very specific objective – to study the presence of water and ice on the Moon. Initially, the rover was to take off in the year 2023, transported by a SpaceX Falcon Heavy launcher, then land on the earth satellite thanks to Astrobotic’s Griffin lander.
” Another $67.8 million added to Astrobotic’s contract »
NASA scientists want to be reassuring and they say that the delay of the Viper rover will not be binding. However, it will allow researchers to carry out additional tests on Astrobotic’s Griffin lunar lander, which will be very important when the rover is sent to the Moon in November 2024.
In order to carry out its additional tests, NASA mentions in its press release that ” Another $67.8 million added to Astrobotic’s contract, which now stands at $320.4 million “.
This is not the first time that NASA has delayed one of its space missions: in 2021, agency officials had already estimated that additional time would be needed to complete the preparation of the Crew-3 capsule, and that it is ready.
VIPER, a very important mission for the Artémis program
The VIPER rover mission is part of the Artemis program (name inspired by the Greek goddess), which consists of landing astronauts on the Moon by 2027, and installing a permanent human base there.
In this sense, the role of the VIPER rover is very important to carry out this program: knowledge of water on the Moon would allow NASA scientists to affirm that human beings could well live in the near future or distant on the surface of the Moon. This would also allow researchers to see further: the Moon is a springboard to the rest of space, especially to Mars.