Toyota, Japan Space Agency To Develop Moon Rover


JAXA is planning to send manned missions to the moon between 2029 and 2034. To achieve the goals of such exploration, coordination between robotic missions, such as the recent successful touchdown by the asteroid probe Hayabusa2 on the asteroid Ryugu, and human missions, such as those involving humans using pressurized rovers to conduct activities on the moon, is essential. "Fuel cells, which use clean power-generation methods, emit only water, and, due to their high energy density, they can provide a lot of energy, making them especially ideal for the project being discussed with JAXA", said Toyota Executive Vice President Terashi.

A spokesman for Toyota, which plans to ramp up fuel-cell cars as a zero-emission alternative to gasoline vehicles, said the project would give the company a chance to test its technologies in the moon's harsh environment and improve them. Toyota is touting the fuel cell technology and the 10,000-mile range of the rover.

"Through our joint studies going forward, we would like to put to use Toyota's excellent technological abilities related to mobility, and we look forward to the acceleration of our technological studies for the realization of a manned, pressurized rover", Yamakawa continued.

JAXA and Toyota are aiming to launch the rover in 2029, with human missions to follow in the 2030s.

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But first, it will need the technology to support them.

The Toyota Moon Rover Concept for JAXA measures in at 6.0-metres long, 5.2-metres wide and 3.8-metres tall, which is around the size of two microbuses combined.

'Lunar gravity is one-sixth of that on Earth, ' explained JAXA Vice President Koichi Wakata. Meanwhile, the moon has a complex terrain with craters, cliffs, and hills. The vehicle, which features a pressurized cabin and a suite of high-tech goodies, would give astronauts incredible freedom to explore the Moon, but it's not a sure thing quite yet. The rover promises a lunar cruising range of 10,000km. In total, four expeditions are now planned that require use of the rover to traverse the Moon's surface.

Though it's meant to carry two people, Toyota says it can fit four in an emergency situation.