Audi Vehicle Packs Its Bags, Books Ticket to the Moon

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • 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.

  • ToolGuy Friendly reminder of two indisputable facts: A) Winners buy new vehicles (only losers buy used), and B) New vehicle buyers are geniuses (their vehicle choices prove it):
  • Groza George Stellantis live off the back of cheap V8 cars with old technology and suffers from lack of new product development. Now that regulations killed this market, they have to ditch the outdated overhead.They are not ready to face the tsunami of cheap Chinese EVs or ready to even go hybrid and will be left in the dust. I expect most of their US offerings to be made in Mexico in the future for good tariff protection and lower costs of labor instead of overpriced and inflexible union labor.
  • MaintenanceCosts This is delaying an oil change for my Highlander by a couple of weeks, as it prevented me from getting an appointment before a business trip out of town. Oh well, much worse things have happened.I also just got a dealership oil change for my BMW (thanks, loss-leader prepaid plans!) and this didn't seem to affect them at all.
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Gonna need more EV fuel.
  • Lou_BC There's a company in BC that has kits for logging trucks and pickups. They have "turn key" logging trucks too. What they market is similar to what Ram wants to sell. The rig runs on batteries and a generator kicks in when depleted. On the West Coast logging in the mountains they found that the trucks run mostly on regen braking. The generator doesn't kick in much. Going up mountain, the truck is empty.
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