The Nevada-based entertainment and education outfit has partnered with aerospace technology company Lunar Outpost for the project, which is slated to take place in 2021. The team hopes to get the four-wheelers onboard a spacecraft designed by Intuitive Machines. This vessel, known as the Nova-C lander, is due to launch from Earth atop the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket late next year and, hopefully, chauffeur the two racing rovers into space.
Once the rovers land on the moon, competitors with a need for interstellar speed will race them remotely around a pre-determined track, navigating the otherworldly terrain. All the while, a sphere of cameras will capture every second and send high-resolution video to Earth dwellers to enjoy from the comfort of home.
So, what about the vehicles themselves? Lunar Outpost is adapting its Mobile Autonomous Prospecting Platform (MAPP) for racing mobility. This lunar rover was originally designed for prospecting resources on extraterrestrial scientific missions but will be transformed into a pure sang racing machine. In fact, Lunar Outpost claims the new speedsters will be two of the “fastest vehicles ever landed on the lunar surface.”
To further hone the designs, Moon Mark enlisted some unlikely minds. In early 2020, the company put a callout to high school students across the world to come up with concepts to spec. The designs had to weigh no more than 11 pounds and be equipped with a WiFi module, a compact battery, an IU solar panel, a UHF radio and a single board computer.
The winning designers and their rovers will now battle it out for eight weeks in Earth-based qualifying rounds. The final two vehicles will be refined by aerospace and motorsports experts, including renowned automotive designer Frank Stephenson, who has spent three decades leading storied automotive brands such as Mini, Ferrari, Maserati and McLaren. Stephenson, along with Lunar Outpost, will attest to the “space-worthiness” of the duo before the race on the moon.
“Space is a fascinating place, remaining untapped for budding designers, and I’m very much looking forward to sharing some of my knowledge to those involved in this innovative project,” Stephenson said in a statement.
The lauded designer has even taken a stab at penning a racer himself (pictured in top image). If the two rovers run anything like the McLaren 720S, which he also designed, we’re in for a treat.