It will make 800 feet . . . in about 10 minutes.
When NASA decides to do a vehicle reveal, usually it’s some kind of smallish unmanned rover that looks like a cross between a 1950's kitchen appliance and a BattleBots semi-finalist. Today, however, the gloves came off in what is no doubt the coolest planetary exploration vehicle in the space agency’s history. It seats four, has six wheels, there’s room in back to conduct experiments, and yes, it’s fully functional.
Unfortunately, it will never leave the planet Earth. Oh, come on NASA, don’t tease us like this.
The primary mission for the Mars Rover Concept will be to help educate people on the red planet, and to encourage excitement for future generations to keep the fires of exploration stoked and burning hot. It was built by the Parker Brothers – no, not the ones who introduced the world to Monopoly. Shanon and Marc Parker have built a number of cool rides through their company Parker Brother Concepts, including the futuristic bikes from the 2010 sci-fi film Tron: Legacy. The duo consulted with astronauts on the design, then built the entire rover from scratch in just five months.
It was revealed June 5 in a special ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to kick of the Summer of Mars event at the complex. It will remain on display at the centre as part of the Journey to Mars exhibit.
As mentioned, the rover is fully functional, with on-board screens and a top speed in the neighborhood of a crawl. The massive wheels are designed to both traverse rocks, as well as provide flotation and bite in soft, sandy conditions. We don’t have details on the drive system, but electric power with solar charging is almost certainly part of the equation.
We also can’t help but notice the awesome resemblance to the asteroid rovers featured in everyone’s favourite off-world action flic Armageddon. We don’t know if that was coincidental or intentional, given the brothers’ Hollywood ties. Whatever the case might be, we absolutely love it. Yes, it’s missing a few wheels, the Recaro seats, and the all-important drill thingy on top. But to borrow a phrase from Bruce Willis’ character Harry Stamper, we’ve got just five words for the Parker Brothers: Damn good looking rover boys.