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Friday, January 1, 2021

after the race to moon could come ... 'race on the moon !'

News broke today  morning that Lewis Hamilton will miss the Sakhir Grand Prix after testing positive for COVID-19, leaving a space to fill in the most competitive car on the grid. It's rare that such an opportunity comes up and Mercedes is clearly considering its options after confirming an announcement would be made "in due course".  .. we were not the generation who spent time worrying on this ..  In mid 1970s and 1980s, when we gazed at motorcycles, a sudden shriek will garner everyone’s attention – a motorcycle whizzing past in the not so crowded beach road ….those informed will tell that it is someone preparing to drive at racetrack in Sholavaram – the vehicle would look funny, devoid of any extra fittings, head light housing removed, no mudguards and even no kick-starter – would require a push start ………….. and DD would show live those races …  

~ a photo of moon on Thirukarthigai day 30.11.2020 taken by me

China’s Chang’e 5 mission, tasked with bringing a sample of lunar dirt back to Earth, successfully landed on the Moon today, marking the third time that China has placed a robotic spacecraft on the lunar surface. The lander will soon begin digging up samples of lunar soil, which will be returned to our planet later this month.  Chang’e 5 launched from China’s Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on November 23rd, flying to space on top of a Long March 5 rocket. It’s a complex mission consisting of four main spacecraft that will all work together to bring between 2 to 4 kilograms of lunar dirt back to Earth. The quartet traveled to the Moon attached together and got into lunar orbit on November 28th.   Two of those four spacecraft include a lander and an ascent vehicle, which are stacked on top of each other. On November 28th, the pair separated from the third spacecraft, Chang’e-5’s service module, which remained in orbit around the Moon. The lander and ascent module touched down on the lunar surface today, according to CGTN, though a time was not provided.

Now over the next few days, the lander will use a robotic arm to drill into the lunar dirt and scoop up rocks, storing them inside a sample container. Once the sample is collected, the robotic arm will transfer the container to the ascent module on top of the lander. Then it’ll be time for Chang’e-5’s second takeoff, with the ascent module blasting off from the lander with the sample in tow. The ascent module will meet up with the service module in orbit, and together the spacecraft will head back to Earth.  The sample will eventually be transferred to the fourth spacecraft, a reentry capsule tasked with bringing the material to the ground. It’s unclear exactly when that landing will take place, but it could occur around December 16th or 17th. China is targeting somewhere in Inner Mongolia for the landing spot. 

If all goes to plan, China will become one of three countries to bring back samples from the Moon. US astronauts retrieved lunar soil samples during the Apollo missions in the 1960s and 70s, and the former Soviet Union brought back lunar material through a series of robotic missions in the 1970s. In fact, the last successful lunar sample return mission occurred in 1976 with the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 mission. With Chang’e-5, China could bring the first material back from the Moon in nearly half a century.

Ever imagined that a car race would occur in moon ??  a pair of remote control race cars will land on the Moon next year for the first ever race across the lunar surface - and they will be driven by high school students. Moon Mark, an entertainment and education company, is sponsoring the race that will see teams of students compete to design and drive one of two racers. The winning teams will then work with McLaren P1 designer Frank Stephenson to create a vehicle that will race across the low-gravity environment of the Moon. They will be launched to the Moon on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in October 2021 and descend to the surface inside the first privately developed lunar lander.After eight-weeks of qualifying by high-schoolers from around the world, six teams of five members will compete to become the final two that race on the Moon.

Those challenges included e-gaming, drone racing and a space commercialisation entrepreneurship contest until a final two teams were confirmed. Their adventures will be captured, produced and globally distributed by Moon Mark so people can follow their progress on the run up to the October launch. The two racers will deploy on the Moon via the Nova-C lander by Houston-based Intuitive Machines, following a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch in late 2021. The final design hasn't been confirmed as it will be a collaboration between Moon Mark, Frank Stephenson and the winning teams of high school students.   While the cost of the launch hasn't been revealed - other firms quote $544,000 per lb to send objects to the Moon - a nearly $10 million cost. The Nova-C lander is the 'first lunar lander wholly developed by a private company' and is expected to touch down in the Oceanus Procellarum.

The lander is heading to the Moon next year to survey the grand canyon-sized Schröter's Valley but will deploy the pair of race cars at the same time.  Moon Mark is working with a number of private space firms, including Lunar Outpost who have expertise in developing lunar rover vehicles.  Lunar Outpost will adapt its patented Mobile Autonomous Prospecting Platform (MAPP), created for extraterrestrial scientific missions, for racing mobility. Assuming Nova-C lands safely, not only will this be the first race on the surface of the Moon, but will also be the first private landing - potentially spearheading a new commercial Moon race.

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
1st Dec 2020.



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