NASA is delaying the flight of its VIPER rover — a specialised bot designed to hunt for water on the floor of the Moon. Initially set to embark on its lunar expedition in November of 2023, VIPER is now focusing on a launch in November of 2024 with a view to permit for testing of the lander that may ship the automobile to the Moon’s floor, in keeping with NASA.

Standing for Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, VIPER is an enormous part of NASA’s Artemis program, which goals to ship people again to the Moon. The robotic rover is, in essence, a prospector. Outfitted with specialised agile wheels, science devices, and a drill, VIPER is designed to hunt for water ice that’s regarded as positioned on the Moon’s floor with a view to decide how a lot is up there, how unfold out the water is, and how much form the water is in. That method, if future missions need to mine the Moon’s water, they’ll have a greater concept of the place to look and what instruments they’ll want.

To get VIPER to the Moon, NASA is contracting with a business firm referred to as Astrobotic by way of the area company’s CLPS program — an initiative to impress non-public firms into constructing business lunar touchdown platforms. Astrobotic, which is engaged on a fleet of robotic lunar landers, plans to make use of its future Griffin lander to hold VIPER to the Moon’s floor. However immediately, NASA introduced that it had requested extra testing of the Griffin lander, pushing the projected launch date again to late 2024. With the change, NASA is giving Astrobotic an extra $67.8 million, bringing the full worth of the corporate’s contract for the VIPER mission to $320.4 million.

Although the rover is delayed, NASA plans to fly variations of VIPER’s devices on two upcoming business landers headed towards the Moon later this yr. The 2 landers embody one being developed by Houston-based firm Intuitive Machines, in addition to one other smaller lander referred to as Peregrine being developed by Astrobotic.

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