Forget walking on the moon, this American company plans to race it. Moon Mark is gearing up to deploy two autonomous rovers into space and stage the first remote-controlled car race on the lunar surface.
The Nevada-based entertainment and education team is partnering with aerospace technology company Lunar Outpost on the project, scheduled for 2021. The team hopes to get the quadricycles aboard a spacecraft designed by Intuitive Machines. Known as the Nova-C lander, this ship will be launched from Earth late next year atop the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and will hopefully send the two racing rovers into space.
Once the rovers have landed on the moon, competitors in need of distance interstellar speed race across a predetermined track, navigating the alien terrain. All the while, a sphere of cameras will capture every second and send high-resolution video to the Earthlings to enjoy from the comfort of home.
So, what about the vehicles themselves? Lunar Outpost is adapting its Mobile Autonomous Prospecting Platform (MAPP) for race mobility. This lunar rover was originally designed for resource search on alien science missions, but will be transformed into a purely sung racing machine. Lunar Outpost even claims that the new speedsters are two of the “fastest vehicles to ever land on the lunar surface.”
To further hone the designs, Moon Mark enlisted some unlikely ghosts. In early 2020, the company called on high school students around the world to come up with concepts according to specification. The designs were not allowed to weigh more than 11 kilos and are equipped with a WiFi module, a compact battery, an IU solar panel, a UHF radio and a single on-board computer.
The winning designers and their rovers will now compete in qualifying rounds on Earth for eight weeks. The latter two vehicles will be refined by aerospace and motorsport experts, including renowned car designer Frank Stephenson, who has led leading car brands such as Mini, Ferrari, Maserati and McLaren for three decades. Stephenson, along with Lunar Outpost, will attest to the duo’s “space dignity” for the race on the moon.
“The space is a fascinating place that remains untapped for budding designers, and I am very much looking forward to sharing some of my knowledge with those involved in this innovative project,” Stephenson said in a statement.
The acclaimed designer even made an effort to pin a racer himself (shown in the top image). If the two rovers drive something like the McLaren 720S, which he also designed, we’re in for a treat.