SNC wins NASA contract to power moon rover

Tuesday March 30, 2021 Tags: Louisville, Sierra Nevada Corporation, Fatih Ozmen, Janet Kavandi, NASA

LOUISVILLE/SPARKS, Nev. -- Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announced it was awarded a contract for a program supporting NASA’s water-hunting robot mission to the moon. The amount of the contract was not revealed.Sierra_Nevada_logo 

SNC said it will contribute its cutting-edge solar array technology to power a rover on the lunar surface in its mission to identify and quantify water and volatile resources, helping advance the agency’s Artemis program. 

“SNC’s solar arrays are truly game-changing and seeing them power a moon rover is a dream come true,” said SNC’s CEO Fatih Ozmen.  

“This mission adds to our long history of supporting interplanetary missions, including 14 missions to Mars where we have safely landed the rovers on the planet’s surface.”

SNC’s Space Systems division is based in Louisville.

NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) rover is targeted to land on the south pole of the moon in late 2023 for an approximate 100-day mission. The rover, a mobile robot, will be delivered to the lunar surface under NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative.

Powered by SNC’s Surface Mount Technology (SMT) solar panels, the VIPER will get a close-up view of the location and concentration of water ice that could eventually be harvested to sustain human exploration on the moon, Mars and beyond. 

“Our solar panels provide the rover with greater power and design flexibility at a lower cost than conventional ones,” said Janet Kavandi, former NASA astronaut and executive VP for SNC’s Space Systems. 

“SNC’s manufacturing process produces panels that have up to 15% higher power density than competitors, and greater reliability and resiliency.”

The solar panels will provide full power for the rover operation during the mission, keeping the batteries charged and payload systems operating.

This contract builds on SNC 's SMT solar power module technology applications for both NASA and commercial lunar vehicle applications.