We no longer build Earthly cars Down Under, but a new proposal could see locally-developed rovers sent into space within next five years.
NASA – the USA’s famed national space agency – will take an Australian-built and developed lunar rover to the surface of Earth’s moon, according to the Federal Government.
A new agreement between the US and Australia will reportedly allow local businesses and researchers to collaborate on the vehicle’s development and manufacturing process, before a potential launch as soon as 2026. However, specific details are so far thin on the ground.
“The rover will collect lunar soil that contains oxides, and using separate equipment, NASA will aim to extract oxygen from the soil,” Australia’s Minister for Science and Technology, Melissa Price, said in an official statement.
“This is a key step towards establishing a sustainable human presence on the Moon and supporting future missions to Mars.”
The required mechanical specifications are unknown for now, and It’s unclear if the “semi-autonomous” vehicle will carry people.
However, the original lunar rover – built by Boeing and General Motors in 1971 – carried two passengers, and was powered by four electric motors for a total output of just 0.78kW (or a little more than one horsepower).
Fully laden the vehicle weighed approximately 210kg on Earth, but on the lunar surface this equates to less than 40kg. Two 121 amp-hour silver-oxide battery packs permitted a range of 92km.
Humans last visited the moon in late 1972, aboard Apollo 17. NASA has announced preliminary plans to send astronauts to the Moon again in 2024, with the intention of developing a permanent presence by the 2030s.
William Davis has written for Drive since July 2020, covering news and current affairs in the automotive industry. He has maintained a primary focus on industry trends, autonomous technology, electric vehicle regulations, and local environmental policy. As the newest addition to the Drive team, William was brought onboard for his attention to detail, writing skills, and strong work ethic. Despite writing for a diverse range of outlets – including the Australian Financial Review, Robb Report, and Property Observer – since completing his media degree at Macquarie University, William has always had a passion for cars.