In 2021, a remote controlled rover race will take place on the lunar surface. At the same time, the development of these cars will be carried out by the famous auto designer Frank Stephenson, who worked with BMW, Ferrari and other whales of the automotive business, and … schoolchildren. Such an amazing statement was made by representatives of the Moon Mark project.
If successful, it will be the first soft-landing probe designed and manufactured by a private company (not with private money, though).
Nova-C is capable of delivering up to one hundred kilograms of payload to the moon. Most of it is NASA’s scientific instruments, which funded the project. By the way, NASA allocated $ 77 million for the creation and launch of the spacecraft . However, the contract stipulates a certain payload limit, which Intuitive Machines has the right to spend at its discretion.
And eight kilograms of this limit will be allocated to … racing rovers from the Moon Mark company. Each vehicle will weigh 2.5 kilograms, and another three kilograms will be a system for deploying them on the surface of Selena.
This is a very extravagant decision (although how is it worse than sending a car on an interplanetary trip by Elon Musk ?).
Recall that over the past 40 years there have been only five attempts at soft landing on the moon. Of these, two ( Israeli and Indian ) ended in failure. And now it turns out that 8% of the space on the device flying to Selena (and the cost of this 8%, based on the project budget, will amount to more than $ 6 million) will be spent on entertainment for children.
In this place, any scientist who for decades dreamed of delivering his device to the moon for certain scientific research could start banging his head against the wall.
But the project developers have their own reasons. The race will attract the attention of society to space exploration, and above all of the younger generation. But these are future astronomers, engineers, entrepreneurs, and also voters and even politicians. If today’s children light up with the dream of exploring the Universe, and then carry it into their hearts into their adult life, then this $ 6,000,000 (by the way, not such a large amount by the standards of modern astronautics) will turn out not to be a reckless waste, but a very profitable investment in the future of humanity.
What will this project look like in practice? The lunar surface races will be the main prize of the Moon Mark’s Mission 1 competition, which will feature six teams of high school students. Schoolchildren will compete in drone races, space mission design and other fun things.
The two winning teams will receive the right to operate the racing moon rovers (from Earth, of course). But first, they will take part in their development. The chassis, controls and other important systems will of course be designed by specialists.
It is known for certain that the schoolchildren will work out the body design (here the famous Frank Stevenson will help them). This is also not an easy task. After all, the body must protect the device from damage in accidents and save it from the ubiquitous moon dust. In addition, when designing it, the mass distribution and many other technical parameters must be taken into account.
The prototype of the racing lunar rovers will be the MAPP project from the Lunar Outpost company (it is covered in more detail in the video below). True, the concept will have to be finalized, because the MAPP devices weigh 10 kilograms and move at a speed of only 360 meters per hour, which is by no means dizzying.
Note that the actual pace of the races is a separate issue. The speed of future rovers has not yet been announced. However, the radio signal takes 1.3 seconds to reach the moon and the same time to return. It is unlikely that this way you can control something really fast in real time.
The route of future races is also yet to be laid.
“There is a trail that designs Hermann Tilke, who designed all the latest track,” Formula 1 “around the world” – says Stevenson material New Atlas.
Of course, the path will not be marked in any way on the lunar surface. Perhaps the route will be shown as a line on the screens where young operators will follow the movement of their vehicles.
In any case, the feast of technical thought will not be long. The Nova-C device is not equipped with heaters, which means that the life of its entire payload is one lunar day (about two Earth weeks).