Audi Vehicle Packs Its Bags, Books Ticket to the Moon

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
audi vehicle packs its bags books ticket to the moon

It’s a one-way flight, obviously.

Audi has announced that its Lunar Quattro has a ticket to ride on a moon-bound spaceflight booked for late next year. Refined, finessed, and now 18 pounds lighter, the automaker’s plucky moon rover is bound for a rendezvous with another extraplanetary car.

That one, however, is a 1970s model.

Since Audi announced its desire to land a four-ring rover on the moon early last year, 16 of its top experts have put their brains together assembling a battery-powered lunar vehicle equipped with sure-footed all-wheel drive. Moon dust, as we all know, is terrible for traction.

It’s not boredom that’s compelling Audi to make this trip. The automaker, working with the German space travel company Part-Time Scientists, hopes to beat out 15 competing teams to win the Google Lunar XPRIZE. To win, a team must land a rover on the moon, drive it a minimum of 500 meters (about a third of a mile), and send back photos.

To make up for the cost of development, the prize includes a $30 million payday. Not bad, but spaceflight ain’t cheap.

With two 66.1-pound Audi Lunar Quattros at the ready, all that’s left is the trip. And it’s a loooong trip385,000 kilometers, or about 240,000 miles. Yesterday, the automaker announced that PT Scientists has secured a launcher booked through Spaceflight Inc., which should lift off near the end of 2017. Space News reports that the launch vehicle will almost certainly be a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster, which is how Elon Musk worms his way into this story.

Unlike a NASA mission, the Google Lunar XPRIZE doesn’t concern itself with mineral samples and the effects of weightlessness on tiny screws in space. Simply, the mission is all about getting there, period.

Still, the Audi team doesn’t plan to ignore space history or science. There’s extra room in the probe, so the team plans to ship equipment for NASA, the European Space Agency and Wikipedia. Also, the two rovers are headed to meet up with a relic of the past — the Apollo 17 Lunar Rover left behind in the Valley of Taurus-Littrow after the last manned moon mission in 1972. That vehicle was built with the help of General Motors.

[Image: Audi AG]

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8 of 21 comments
  • FreedMike FreedMike on Nov 30, 2016

    Better an Audi on the moon than a Lexus in Uranus, I'd say...

  • IBx1 IBx1 on Nov 30, 2016

    But why? Also, audis don't even last the entirety of their lease period without electronic failures; I doubt they'll survive the ~250,000 mile trip to the moon.

    • See 2 previous
    • Rpn453 Rpn453 on Dec 01, 2016

      @-Nate That one cracked me up, Nate.

  • Tassos ask me if I care.
  • ToolGuy • Nice vehicle, reasonable price, good writeup. I like your ALL CAPS. 🙂"my mid-trim EX tester is saddled with dummy buttons for a function that’s not there"• If you press the Dummy button, does a narcissist show up spouting grandiose comments? Lol.
  • MaintenanceCosts These are everywhere around here. I'm not sure the extra power over a CR-V hybrid is worth the fragile interior materials and the Kia dealership experience.
  • MaintenanceCosts It's such a shame about the unusable ergonomics. I kind of like the looks of this Camaro and by all accounts it's the best-driving of the current generation of ponycars. A manual 2SS would be a really fun toy if only I could see out of it enough to drive safely.
  • ToolGuy Gut feel: It won't sell all that well as a new vehicle, but will be wildly popular in the used market 12.5 years from now.(See FJ Cruiser)