PTScientists, the Berlin-based company behind the moonshot, was formed to compete for the Google Lunar X Prize in 2008, which challenged privately-funded teams to race to land a robotic spacecraft on the moon. That prize elapsed in March 2018 with no launches planned, but PTScientists, backed by Vodafone, Audi, Omega and now Red Bull, is forging ahead, with liftoff set for the second half of 2019.
CEO and founder Robert Boehme (left above, with Joachim Wildt, Red Bull Media House’s Global Head of Distribution) attended the launch event in Cannes last night. He explained the incredible task facing ALINA, PTScientists’ spacecraft and lunar landing module — and the first galactic vessel to have a female name — which will have to navigate through space and then land lightly on the moon’s surface to deliver its payload safely. And not just anywhere: the target is the Apollo 17 site, the last place visited by humans, to find the 1972 lunar buggy and search for the final footprints the Nasa astronauts left. Hence his comment, that the mission is “like the total opposite of boldly going where no man has been before.”
PTScientists is planning to deploy two roving units at once — Audi lunar Quattro rovers capable of carrying 5kg of scientific and camera equipment — and have one filming the other, so that there will be external pictures of the mission going about its work. A Vodafone-powered 4G LTE network will transfer the data back to ALINA, which will then transmit it back to Earth.
Red Bull Media House will develop, produce and licence the mission’s live broadcasts, behind-the-scenes footage and additional content, while its Terra Mater Factual Studios will chronicle the project from inception to accomplishment in three hour-long documentaries.
Next year is the 50th anniversary of the first moon landings, and is already promising to be rich in lunar celebrations on TV screens. But the space race is hotting up anew, with private companies with the size and clout of Virgin Galactic and Elon Musk’s SpaceX also putting craft into space. And Boehme seems to enjoy the plucky underdog nature of his enterprise.
He explained that his company’s name was originally “Part-time Scientists”, and said the team used to work “Batman-style” at night around other jobs. “We’ve been working on this project for 10 years now. We started as a private group of people building stuff in our basement. We are happy to transform this into a solid space endeavour. PTScientists believes that space belongs to everyone, and Mission To The Moon will make space accessible for all to explore,” he said.
This article was written by Max Leonard for MIPTV News magazine, and edited by Kristine Clifford. Read all MIPTV publications online here…