Toyota will develop a manned fuel-cell lunar rover

Toyota and JAXA – the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency – have joined efforts to design and build a manned Moon rover that will embark on an exploration mission to the Earth’s largest natural satellite in 2030

Toyota, JAXA to develop manned moon probe

THE JAPANESE Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is creating a wheeled vehicle to traverse the surface of the moon in 2029, and it has gone to automotive giant Toyota to come up with the vehicle.

The pressurized vehicle proposed this week by Toyota is six meters long and 3.8 meters high - or, about the size of two microbuses, the auto company says. Manned, pressurized rovers will be an important element supporting human lunar exploration, which JAXA envisions will take place in the 2030s; it aim is launching such a rover into space in 2029, said JAXA Vice President Koichi Wakata.

Today, Toyota announced a somewhat vague agreement with JAXA that could result in a revolutionary lunar rover.

The space agency's president, Hiroshi Yamakawa, said: "Having Toyota join us in the challenge of global space exploration greatly strengthens our confidence".

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A pressurized cabin will allow the rover to transport astronauts across greater distances on the surface of the moon. After the crew exits the rover, it will autonomously cruise to the next exploration point and wait for the arrival of a new crew. JAXA president Hiroshi Yamakawa said that the cooperation between it and Toyota could generate spin-off benefits.

In the future, Toyota and JAXA will conduct joint studies with the latter exercising the automaker's technology know-how to accelerate the development of a pressurized lunar rover. And I think that coming back alive is exactly what is needed in this project. It seems likely that total will grow if the fuel cell continues to be topped up using solar energy.

Lunar gravity is one-sixth of that on Earth.

'For wide ranging human exploration of the moon, a pressurized rover that can travel more than 10,000 km in such environments is necessary'. Toyota's concept of space mobility is ideal for this mission, he adds. Going forward, we want to utilize Toyota's and JAXA's technologies, human resources, and knowledge, among others, to continuously solve those issues. The automaker and Japanese space agency announced an agreement to study the possibility of collaborating on worldwide space exploration.

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