On Earth, expensive German car drivers are usually dicks, and we might find out how the pinnacle of automotive engineering fares off-planet when a team of scientists sends an extremely douchey-looking Audi rover to the moon in late 2017.
The team, Part Time Scientists, is competing to win Google’s Lunar X Prize against 16 other teams. The winning team — whoever puts a privately-funded, autonomous vehicle on the surface of the moon first —will get $20 million, and the second place team will score $5 million. Right now, it looks like PT Scientists might be a strong contender to win, as the team just signed a deal with Spaceflight Industries to get their rover on a rocket by late 2017 (per competition rules, probes have to hit the moon’s surface by the end of the year). Moon Express already has a launch plan, as does Israel’s Space IL, and an international team called Synergy Moon.
The team’s agreement would get two Audi-designed rovers on top of moon-bound rockets, where they would head for a site near the original Apollo 17 site. The winning team has to successfully land a rover, drive it about a third of a mile (at least 500 meters), and send back some high-definition pictures. The fun byproduct of this is that HD photos of the original lunar lander would be a final “screw you, you’re wrong” to moon landing conspiracy theorists.
The other fun byproduct of this is that Audi, the German luxury automaker, got to design a moon rover, and, well, it looks like a coffee table from Mass Effect Normandy spaceship with a webcam stuck on top.
The rovers will touch down on ALINA, PT Scientist’s Autonomous Landing and Navigation Module. ALINA can transport a 100kg payload on each flight.
It won’t be getting too close to the moon landing site, however. NASA doesn’t want any of the teams landing any closer than two kilometers (about 1.2 miles) from the Apollo site, and the rovers aren’t allowed to get any closer than 200 yards or so. But still, if Audi’s futuristic moon-car can snap a pic of the O.G. moon-mobile, it’ll almost make up for all the asshole drivers that don’t use their turn signal in rush hour.