Toyota, Japan space agency join forces to develop moon rover

Toyota, Japan space agency join forces to develop moon rover

Although Japan has no plan now to make a manned rocket that could send people into space, the rover could be a major contribution to an worldwide space probe program in the future, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said. It's powered by the Japanese vehicle company's fuel-cell tech (which uses solar energy).

The original manned moon rover was the Boeing LRV (Lunar Roving Vehicle), which was used during the Apollo space missions in the early 1970s.

"Having Toyota join us in the challenge of worldwide space exploration greatly strengthens our confidence", Hiroshi Yamakawa, JAXA's president, said in the release.

The carmaker is working with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency to build a pressurized rover for exploring the moon. Instead of a family sedan, the auto manufacturer is making a pressurized self-driving rover to cruise the lunar surface.

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

The Toyota Jaxa Lunar explorer is the size of two microbuses
The Toyota Jaxa Lunar explorer is the size of two microbuses

'Meanwhile, the moon has a complex terrain with craters, cliffs, and hills.

The vehicle uses Toyota's fuel cell vehicle technologies and would have a cruising range of more than 6,000 miles on the surface of the moon, despite limited amounts of fuel that can be brought there. 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 vehicle, which is expected to make its debut in 2029, is expected to have six wheels and be capable of transporting two humans (four in an emergency) a distance of 10,000 using solar power as well as fuel-cell technology being developed by Toyota.

Though it's meant to carry two people, Toyota says it can fit four in an emergency situation. "We aim at launching such a rover into space in 2029", he added.

'Thus far, our joint study, has examined a preliminary concept for a manned, pressurized rover system, and we have identified the technological issues that must be solved, ' Wakata said.

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