When it leaves Earth, Astrobotic's Griffin Lunar Lander will be carrying NASA's lunar rover named VIPER.

By: KDKA-TV News Staff

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic has chosen SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy Rocket to launch its lunar lander to the moon.

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When it leaves Earth, Astrobotic’s Griffin Lunar Lander will be carrying NASA’s lunar rover named VIPER.

(Photo Courtesy: Astrobotic)

The goal of the mission is to find out if there is water on the moon and if it can be used to help astronauts during future space exploration missions.

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VIPER stands for Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover.

Astrobotic says Griffin and VIPER are set for a course toward the moon’s south pole. Once there, Astrobotic says Griffin will land on the moon’s surface, and then VIPER will descend using the ramps on Griffin. NASA’s rover will then scan the moon’s surface and subsurface for water ice.

In a news release, Astrobotic’s Daniel Gillies says, “Getting to the Moon isn’t just about building a spacecraft, but having a complete mission solution. SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy completes our Griffin Mission 1 (GM1) solution by providing a proven launch vehicle to carry us on our trajectory to the Moon. SpaceX has the team, vehicle, and facilities to make this happen.”

The mission is slated to happen in 2023 at the famous Kennedy Space Center in Florida.