PTScientists sign launch contract for Mission to the Moon
Berlin-based ‘new space’ company the PTScientists are set to mark the 45th anniversary of humanity’s final footprints on the Moon by revisiting the historic landing site of Apollo 17.
Having successfully negotiated a launch contract with Spaceflight Industries, Inc. the PTScientists’ ‘Mission to the Moon’ is a big step closer to its goal of becoming the first private mission to the Moon.
“It’s the last piece of the puzzle” says PTScientists CEO Robert Boehme, “we have been busy designing and testing our rovers, developing our transport and landing spacecraft, and now we have secured our ride to space”.
The PTScientists have chosen a landing site in the Taurus-Littrow valley; the last place humans set foot on the Moon. They hope to get a closer look at how NASA’s Moon buggy has survived the inhospitable conditions of the Moon.
During their 1972 mission, Apollo 17 Moonwalkers Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt used NASA’s Lunar Roving Vehicle to explore the local terrain – it has since sat untouched on the surface of the Moon for almost 45 years, providing a unique opportunity to study how materials survive in space. PTScientists are delighted to have the support of these two iconic astronauts, which comes with one caveat: Cernan has said the team are not allowed beat the lunar speed record he set while on the Moon!
Working with technology partner Audi, the PTScientists have developed lightweight solar-powered rovers that are packed full of technology to collect scientific data and video on the Moon. The Audi lunar quattro boasts four-wheel drive and active suspension, which will help the team when conducting experiments and navigating the surface of the Moon.
“We’re more used to designing cars on Earth” said Audi project director Ulrich Schwarze, “but when we heard what the PTScientists were planning we wanted to support them as fellow German innovators by sharing some of the knowledge we have built up over decades of vehicle design and manufacturing”.
The PTScientists will be using a commercial launch vehicle to blast their vehicles in to space, and then their Autonomous Landing and Navigation Module – ALINA – will safely deliver the rovers to the Moon.
ALINA is capable of transporting up to 100 kg of payload to the Moon, which is enough to carry the pair of Audi lunar quattro rovers and still have room for additional scientific and commercial payloads.
The team already has agreements to deliver international payloads for Sweden, Canada and the USA and continues to market this opportunity for partnership.
The PTScientists have come a long way in since 2008, when the team was first founded. Back then they were juggling careers spanning cyber-security to designing dentist tools by day, and developing their Moon mission, but now it’s a full-time job for all of them. “If we succeed, we will have done something that previously only governments have been able to do” says Boehme, “we want our mission to inspire others to follow their dreams. You never know what is possible until you try”.
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
- PTScientists is a private space science and engineering company based in Berlin. Twitter: @PTScientists
- They are one of 16 teams still in the running for the Google Lunar XPRIZE. The number of teams is likely to drop significantly as teams who have not secured launch contracts by the end of 2016 will be eliminated.
- The Google Lunar XPRIZE will reward the first private mission to the Moon that is able to drive 500m and send back HD video to Earth. There are additional prize funds for teams who image Apollo landing sites.
- The Audi lunar quattro is a lightweight, four-wheel drive, solar-powered rover with active suspension to allow it to cope with the lunar surface.
- ALINA – Autonomous Landing and Navigation Module is the spacecraft that will transport the team’s pair of rovers from Earth orbit to the Moon.
- ALINA is designed to be used with a range of commercial launch vehicles, reducing the risk of launch delays due to issues with any single class of commercially available rocket. It is the first commercially available lunar transport vehicle.
- PTScientists worked with German futurist and sci-fi author Frank Schaetzing to create a video about their work and showcase the pioneering spirit embodied by the team. We hope to extend our collaborations with artists, writers and educators as we get closer to launch. You find his film here: http://bit.ly/mttm-video
- Spaceflight Industries, Inc. is a company that specializes in brokering launch slots.
- The landing site has been chosen to be within reach of the Apollo 17 site, but not so close that it could risk any damage to the NASA preservation heritage area.
- Further information on ALINA and the Audi lunar quattro is available on request.