Send your name to the moon aboard NASA's ice-hunting VIPER rover

An illustration of the VIPER moon rover (looking like a silvery box with wheels) on the moon.
Artist's illustration of NASA's ice-hunting VIPER rover exploring the moon. (Image credit: NASA/Daniel Rutter)

Your name could fly to the moon later this year.

NASA is inviting you to put your name aboard its VIPER moon rover, which is scheduled to lift off atop a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket in late 2024.

VIPER (short for "Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover") will hunt for water ice and other resources near the moon's south pole — the same general area where NASA plans to set up one or more crewed bases, via the agency's Artemis program.

"With VIPER, we are going to study and explore parts of the moon's surface no one has ever been to before — and with this campaign, we are inviting the world to be part of that risky yet rewarding journey," Nicola Fox, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said in a statement

"Just think: Our names will ride along as VIPER navigates across the rugged terrain of the lunar South Pole and gathers valuable data that will help us better understand the history of the moon and the environment where we plan to send Artemis astronauts," Fox added.

Getting your name aboard the rover is easy: Just go to this NASA site and follow the directions. You have until March 15 to do so.

Related: NASA delays ice-hunting VIPER moon rover launch to 2024, a one-year slip

VIPER is part of NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program, which aims to send agency instruments and other gear to the moon aboard private robotic landers. CLPS is designed to help pave the way for Artemis astronauts, who are scheduled to land near the lunar south pole for the first time in late 2025 or 2026.

The robotic lander involved in VIPER's flight is Griffin, which is built by Pittsburgh-based company Astrobotic. Griffin has yet to get off the ground; VIPER's lunar delivery will be the first mission for the private lander.

Another Astrobotic moon craft is about to make its debut as well. The company's Peregrine lander, which is smaller than Griffin, is set to lift off Jan. 8 on the first-ever mission of United Launch Alliance's Vulcan Centaur rocket. 

Peregrine is carrying a variety of scientific instruments for NASA and other space agencies, along with a number of private payloads. Among the latter are memorial capsules containing cremains and human DNA. The Navajo Nation has objected to their inclusion, saying that the deposition of human remains on the moon would desecrate a sacred space.

The new VIPER name campaign is hardly a first for NASA; the agency commonly invites the public to put their names aboard its spacecraft. 

For example, NASA's Orion capsule carried nearly 3.4 million names to lunar orbit and back on the Artemis 1 mission, an uncrewed effort that launched in November 2022.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.