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Audi’s Moon rover gets ready for launch in 2017

Audi’s Moon rover gets ready for launch in 2017
German car maker Audi is preparing for the launch of its Lunar Quattro rover. The manufacturer will hand it to Berlin-based engineering group Part-Time Scientists, which is one of 30 companies participating in Google's Lunar XPRIZE competition.

The competition to send a rover to the Moon is for businesses and engineers and has a $30 million prize. Audi is supporting the German effort with the Audi Lunar Quattro as well as technical expertise.

The rover must successfully navigate 500 meters of the lunar surface, take high-definition photos and send them back to Earth. The launch into space of the Audi Lunar Quattro is planned for the end of 2017. The journey to the Moon will take about five days.

Audi announced plans to build a moon rover in 2015. The vehicle is made of aluminum and equipped with a solar panel that delivers energy to its lithium-ion battery that powers the rover’s wheels. Its maximum speed is two miles per hour.

Experts have chosen as their target the old landing site of Apollo 17, NASA's last manned mission to the Moon 45 years ago. During the Apollo program six astronauts drove 90 kilometers on the Moon’s surface.

The first robotic lunar rovers designed to land on the Moon and be controlled remotely from Earth were constructed in the Soviet Union between 1969 and 1977. The Lunokhod was the first remote vehicle to explore the Moon in 1970. The last rover sent to the Moon was the Chinese Yutu in 2013.