SpaceX to facilitate first ever remote-control car race on the moon

Each car will weigh around 5.5 pounds and the "deployment mechanism" will weigh a further 6.6 pounds

Tech Desk December 02, 2020
A remote-controlled car race on the lunar surface is due to take place in 2021. PHOTO: Moon Mark project

A new project is sending remotely-controlled racecars to the lunar surface in an attempt to hold the first-ever car race on the Moon, reports New Atlas.

Moon Mark, a multimedia and education content company in collaboration with Intuitive Machines, the global leader in commercial space and airborne systems are pulling in some extraordinary resources to plan the race.

“The first private aerospace company to land on the Moon,” says Intuitive Machines in a press release.

Each car will weigh around 5.5 pounds and the "deployment mechanism" used to deposit them on the lunar surface will weigh a further 6.6 pounds, according to New Atlas.

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The combined weight of 17.6 pounds makes the delivery quite expensive; Astrobotic, a lunar logistics company quoted a price of around US$544,000 per pound to carry it in one of its Peregrine lander modules.

However, the Moon Mark racecars will not be traveling with Astrobotic but instead will be carried in a Nova-C lander made by Intuitive Machines, which will be sent spaceward on the top of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in October 2021.

The thrilling race will take place around the sandy dunes of Oceanus Procellarum, a huge plain near the western edge of the near side of the Moon.

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The best part is that the racecars are going to be designed by six teams of high school kids from across America and the top two teams “will win a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build and race two vehicles on the Moon,” according to a February press release.

“Competitors will then race their rovers remotely, navigating through harsh terrain, racing around a sphere of cameras, which will capture every aspect,” the statement reads.

The teams will have access to “near real-time visuals, telemetry, and command, and control” of the racecars, Moon Mark CTO Todd Wallach told New Atlas.

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Formula One racecar track designer Herman Tilke will design the track on the Moon and a number of factors have been taken into consideration by the design team before planning the race.

“They know the lunar surface, it’s been scanned to the point where he has enough information to develop this track,” as automotive designer Frank Stephenson told the website.

“It’s more about, say, dust filtration, traction, weight, materials, endurance, stability,” Stephenson told New Atlas, pointing out that the cars will be needing a way to right themselves after going off some bumpy jumps.


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