PTScientists, formerly known as Part-Time Scientists, is a group of scientists and engineers based in Germany. They became the first German team to officially enter the Google Lunar X-Prize competition on June 24, 2009, which was finished without winner in March 2018. Their goal remains to land a mission on the Moon, and the launch is expected by Q1 2020.
PTScientists GmbH is the company representing the team. The company opened offices in Berlin-Mahlsdorf in 2015. It is selling payload on the Moon mission to individuals, organizations and companies. The cost for one kilogram of payload is between €700,000 and €800,000. Furthermore, the know-how of the team is available as a consulting service. The European Space Agency is currently studying six private companies, including PTScientists, to work on potential ISRU payload delivery to the Moon surface by 2025.
The PTScientists team formed in June 2009 as "Part-Time Scientists", when ten teams had already entered Google Lunar X-Prize (GLXP), which had started in 2007. Later the company PTScientists GmbH (Limited) was founded.
On December 28, 2009, the team presented their mission at the 26th annual Chaos Communication Congress. In a two-hour presentation, the team provided a detailed overview of all parts of the project. This was the first time the European-made private lunar rover prototype had been presented to the public.
During the Advertising Festival in Cannes, on June 23, 2015, Audi was announced as a main sponsor and the rover developer. As a result of this cooperation, the two identical rovers were named Audi Lunar Quattro during the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Demo mission to the Moon
ALINA lander and ALQ rover
|Mission type||Robotic lander and 2 rovers|
|Mission duration||one lunar day (28 days) maximum|
|Spacecraft type||lunar lander|
|Launch mass||1,250 kg (2,760 lb) |
|Landing mass||ALINA: ~320 kg (710 lb)|
Rovers: 30 kg (66 lb) each
|Dry mass||ALINA: 220 kg (490 lb)|
Fuel mass: 930 kg (2,050 lb)
|Payload mass||ALINA: 100 kg (220 lb) max. |
Rovers: 5 kg (11 lb) max. each
|Dimensions||ALINA: 2.6 m × 2.2 m × 1.8 m|
Rovers: 90 W
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||Q1 2020|
|Spacecraft component||Audi Lunar Qattro-1 (ALQ-1) and Audi Lunar Qattro-2 (ALQ-2)|
|Band||X band and S band|
In March 2017, the group announced that they planned to perform the world's first private Moon landing with a mission they now simply call "Mission to the Moon". A landing module called Autonomous Landing and Navigation Module (ALINA) will launch in 2020 on a Falcon 9 to the surface of the Moon.
ALINA lander will deploy two lunar rovers, and none of the three spacecraft were designed to endure the long lunar night. The three spacecraft are technology demonstrators to showcase the lander's capabilities, including landing near the desired landing zone, roving, and real-time communication.
ALINA is a lunar lander with a launch mass of 1,250 kg (2,760 lb) and a landing mass of about 320 kg (710 lb). Its main engines are in a cluster of eight, each generating 200 Newtons. It also features eight attitude control thrusters generating 10 Newtons each. ALINA is built to host three general types of payload, which are rovers, stationary and orbital (deployment of CubeSats), but for its first mission it will deploy two rovers and no satellites.
This mission aims to land 3 to 5 km (1.9 to 3.1 mi) away from the Apollo 17 landing site in the Taurus–Littrow lunar valley, to search and video from a distance the Lunar Roving Vehicle left there by NASA astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt in 1972 during the Apollo 17 mission. PTScientists have pledged to preserve this and all previous NASA and Soviet lunar landers and rovers as "world heritage" and through their support for For All Moonkind Inc.
The Audi Lunar Quattro (ALQ) rovers are being developed by German automobile manufacturer Audi. The prototype rover is called Asimov Jr. R3, while the two flight rovers are named Audi Lunar Quattro (ALQ). The rovers feature four-wheel drive tranmision where each wheel is able to pivot 360° for special maneuvers, and their solar panel is able to tilt in the direction of the Sun for best power generation.
The rovers' projected maximum speed is 3.6 km/h (2.2 mph), and they will carry two stereo cameras to acquire 3D images, mounted to a moving head at the front of the vehicle. ALINA lander will communicate with the rovers using technology based on Infineon chips, Nokia, and Vodafone's 4G LTE. In turn, the lander will communicate with Earth Control using the European Space Operations Centre (ESTRACK) network.
In addition of hardware for a live video broadcast, the lander and rovers will carry commercial or scientific instruments for a fee. The lander, ALINA, has a capacity for 100 kg (220 lb) including the two 30 kg rovers, and each rover has a capacity for 5 kg (11 lb) payload.
During its first mission, the lander will carry three customer payloads, including an experiment designed by NASA Ames, called Lunar Plant Growth Experiment (LPX). This is an experiment that will investigate germination and initial plant growth when subject to the combined effects of lunar gravity and lunar surface radiation. The experiment will try to grow Arabidopsis (a flowering plant), basil, sunflowers, and turnips in a sealed "biosphere" cylinder about 10 cm in diameter with life-support systems. A miniature camera will photograph any growth. Research in such closed ecological systems inform astrobiology and the development of biological life support systems for long duration missions in space stations or space habitats for space farming.
ESA lander study
In January 2019, ESA contractor Ariane Group announced that it has received a one-year contract from ESA to study a lunar lander concept to mine lunar regolith to extract natural resources. PTScientists were awarded a subcontract and are responsible for the payload delivery portion of the study. The mission would be launched on an Ariane 64 in 2025.
- German Team Part-Time Scientists enters $30-million Google Lunar X-Prize Competition[permanent dead link] Part-Time Scientists, 2009-06-24. (PDF, English)
- Foust, Jeff (22 January 2019). "ArianeGroup and PTScientists to study lunar lander mission for ESA". SpaceNews. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
- ptscientists.com/products/payload ALINA's payload. Accessed October 15, 2017.
- ptscientists.com/products/engineering-consultancy Accessed Oktober 15, 2017
- Giving ESA a helping hand to the Moon. PTScientists News Release. 26 April 2018.
- The Mission. PTScientists' lunar mission home page. Accessed 12 July 2018.
- Imprint auf mission-to-the-moon.shop. Accessed Oktober 15, 2017
- ptscientists.com/partners. Accessed 2016-10-15
- online, heise. "26C3: Wie eine Handvoll Hacker den Mond erobern will". heise online.
- "Deutsches Team will Mond erobern und 30 Millionen Dollar gewinnen".
- Google Lunar XPrize Milestone Awards Announced Accessed 2016-03-29
- ptscientists.com Accessed 2016-06-27
- Mission to the Moon Archived July 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine Accessed 2016-06-27
- The Verge: Inside Audi's wonderfully improbable project to put a rover on the Moon Accessed 2016-03-29
- ALINA: Starter Payload User Guide (2018). (PDF) PTScientists. 2018. Accessed on 3 January 2019.
- "European rocket scientists pledge to make first private Moon landing in 2018". Daily Telegraph. 19 March 2017.
- Part Time Scientists reserves rocket to land Audi moon rovers at Apollo 17 site. Collect Space. 29 November 2016.
- Private space company to return to Apollo 17 landing site – carefully! Spacewatch. 2017.
- 45 years after the last step on the moon, we are ready to take the next one. Audi. Accessed: 1 October 2018.
- PTScientists 'Mission to the Moon' to Take Care Not to Harm Apollo 17 Landing Site. Robert Z. Pearlman, Yahoo News. 7 December 2017.
- "Vodafone and Nokia to create first 4G network on Moon". www.vodafone.com.
- Mission to the Moon Seeks Middle East Partners In Science and Resource Exploration. Spacewatch - Middle East. July 2017.
- Calling the Moon: Startup to put cellphone tower on the Moon. Tereza Pultarova, Fox News. 11 August 2017.
- Lunar Plants LPX Experiment. NASA. Accessed on 5 January 2019.
- NASA's Next Frontier: Growing Plants On The Moon. Tarun Wadhwa, Forbes. 2013.
- I. I. Gitelson; G. M. Lisovsky & R. D. MacElroy (2003). Manmade Closed Ecological Systems. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0-415-29998-5.
- Greenhouses for Mars. Mamta Patel Nagaraja, NASA.
- "Need Oxygen On Mars? Get It From Bacteria! : SCIENCE". Tech Times. Retrieved 2015-11-08.
- ArianeGroup and PTScientists to study lunar lander mission for ESA. Jeff Foust, Space News. 22 January 2019.
- ptscientists.com official PTScientists website
- mission-to-the-moon.com official website of the Mission to the Moon
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