Cars in space isn’t exactly a new idea — just ask Elon Musk. But Xtend Design is making sure that the legacy of Earth’s automotive industry doesn’t get lost in the shuffle as humanity expands its presence to the stars.
The company unveiled a concept for an electric lunar rover during an event at Czech Space Week earlier this month. The vehicle, called the Luniaq, is based on NASA’s MMSEV (Multi-Mission Space Exploration Vehicle) platform, and draws its inspiration from the Skoda Enyaq. It’s easy to see echoes of Skoda’s graceful yet angular design themes in the rover concept.
The electric vehicle was designed by Tomas Rousek, a space architect at Xtend who has previously worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on concept missions to the Moon and Mars.
“We would like to inspire people on how we could continue to progressively develop our technologies and one day live and drive in places other than Earth,” said Rousek in a statement.
The vehicle utilizes puncture-proof Tweel tire technology from Michelin and its large windows would be made of transparent aluminium, making them more durable than glass when going up against things like flying debris and micrometeorites.
Polyethylene layers would do the job of protecting astronauts from radiation, and stereoscopic cameras mounted on top of the vehicle would survey the terrain and assist in its autonomous operation.
It also includes a "suitport" in the back of the rover that allows astronauts to directly enter their suits without risking dust or other particles entering the cabin. Solid-state batteries power the vehicle and can be recharged via solar panels on the roof.
Whether or not the design ends up going into production is anyone’s guess, but it’s encouraging to see the world showing serious enthusiasm for establishing footholds in the cosmos.