In 2016 There’s Going to Be a FREAKING MOON RACE!

by Stirling Matheson
In 2016 There’s Going to Be a FREAKING MOON RACE!zoom in

The Google Lunar XPrize is a $30 Million contest designed to put privately funded and operated rovers on the moon, because it has been too long since we’ve done some cool moon stuff. That’s already interesting, but here’s where it gets better: Astrobiotic of the USA and Hakuto of Japan are sending a total of three rovers on a Space X Falcon 9 rocket. The first rover to cover 500 meters while doing sciency stuff will secure prize money for the company that owns it. Perhaps this will one day lead to a car called the Land Rover Range Rover Moon Rover Sport Supercharged SVR.

That means we have a three way race between Astrobiotic’s rover “Andy” and Hakuto’s “Tetris” and the aptly named “Moonraker.” What I’m wondering is this: are these companies going to stick to their science roots and focus on gathering data at the usual, snail-like rover speed, or are they going to gun for that prize money. Perhaps Hakuto is planning something sneaky. What if Tetris were designed to crawl along collecting data and Moonraker was more of a dedicated race-rover with some instruments attached. Hakuto is in the position to commit completely to both the science and the racing. Also, since the finish line will be “500 meters” and not in any particular direction, it might end up looking like this Monty Python skit…

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