Toyota Teams Up With Japan's Space Agency for Lunar Rover

Saturday, 16 Mar, 2019

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) are considering the possibility of further collaborating on global space exploration.

While the vehicle is still very much in the idea phase, JAXA and Toyota released some specs for the pressurized lunar rover.

"Having pressurized cabins, manned rovers are one of the elements that will play a significant part in full-fledged use and exploration of the moon's surface", said Hiroshi Yamakawa, JAXA President.

In terms of size, the rover, yet unnamed, will be bigger than the average SUV on good-old Earth, and about the same dimensions as two microbuses stacked together: 6 meters in length (9.6 feet) and 3.8 meters in height (12.4 feet).

"For wide-ranging human exploration of the moon, a pressurised rover that can travel more than 10,000km in such environments is a necessity".

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

"It's an extremely challenging project, and we have high hopes for Toyota's technology", Koichi Wakata, an astronaut who has flown in Nasa's Space Shuttle and served as the first Japanese commander of the International Space Station, said at a JAXA event. The automaker and Japanese space agency announced an agreement to study the possibility of collaborating on worldwide space exploration.

Toyota, JAXA to develop manned moon probe
Toyota unveils concept moon rover for Japanese space agency that will be able to carry astronauts

JAXA believes it will have the ability to launch the lunar rover into space come 2029, and more manned missions will come throughout the 2030s.

"International space exploration is a challenge to conquer the unknown".

JAXA has reached an agreement with Toyota to develop a next-generation pressurized lunar vehicle for crewed use. Toyota's concept of space mobility is ideal for this mission, he adds. "I am filled with excitement". For electrification, fuel cell batteries represent an indispensable technology.

Aside from moving the vehicle, Toyota's proprietary power-delivery system will be able to fully power the living quarters inside the lunar vehicle as well as other systems. The use of fuel cells will make it easier to store and transport energy sources in space.

Worldwide space exploration is a challenge to conquer the unknown.

Though it's meant to carry two people, Toyota says it can fit four in an emergency situation. The vehicle will only emit surplus air, and water as it runs on fuel cell.