Under Astrobotic’s contract with NASA, the Pennsylvania-based company had to independently select a contractor to launch. She chose SpaceX on a competitive procurement basis.
As with previous Falcon Heavy launches, SpaceX will launch VIPER from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center near Orlando, Florida.
VIPER is a key device for NASA’s long-term plans to land humans on the moon as early as 2024. Under NASA’s Artemis program, crews will work with devices to explore the moon and its resources using the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program.
A key goal of the Artemis program is to investigate whether it is possible to learn to exist on the Moon sustainably, using resources such as lunar ice at the satellite’s south pole to help astronauts and equipment function for longer missions.
“The exploration of the resources of the moon is critical to the advancement of humanity beyond Earth, and we are honored to support this exciting flight,” notes NASA.