It might sound silly, but when you’re headed into orbit, space is at a premium. There’s only so much room in your rocket, so any space-saving exercises are worth undertaking. Designer Nico Muller has one idea for how astronauts could save space on their missions, and it comes in the form of the Tardigrade Moon Concept Motorcycle. “A moon buggy requires almost the same space as three to four Tardigrades,” says Muller. “The weight is much less than that of a complete buggy made out of steel.”
Muller is one of the co-founders of Hookie, a Dresden-based motorcycle shop, and they’ve been responsible for some pretty out-of-this-world ideas. But so far the electric motorbike builders haven’t actually considered going off-world for one of their projects. Until now, with the basic premise behind this bike being to cut back on weight and space so that those two commodities can be used for more important cargo.
The Tardigrade accomplishes that well, cutting the weight down from the 463 pounds of NASA’s lunar roving vehicle—the “moon buggy”—to a more manageable 308 pounds. It also measures just three feet in height and eight fetid lengths. The design for the bike came from Russian digital artist Andrew Fabishevskiy, and because this wouldn’t be a vehicle on any earthly highways, Hookie was free to abandon Germany’s TUV technical inspection for motorcycles and thus experiment with other possibilities.
“No TUV means we were able to focus on simple functionality, materials, and the weight,” said Muller. “On our Tardigade, we had the opportunity to work with brands like Dupont, Kevlar, and Cake together. Authenticity was the goal in the design process.”
Hookie used laser-cut aluminium that was only 10 mm thick to create the frame and axles. An exoskeleton of tubing also helped cut down on the weight. The drivetrain was covered in Kevlar to protect it against space radiation and other factors. The electric drivetrain was supplied by Cake and offers a top speed of 9 miles per hour and a range of 110 km. The wheels, which were Hookie’s “biggest challenge,” are actually made out of 12 polyurethane tread modules for each wheel which are secured to the rims.
You don’t have to go to the moon to see the Tardigrade; the bike is currently hosted as part of the ADV: Overland exhibition at the Petersen Automotive Museum in California, where it will stay through October 2023.
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