Published: Thu, March 14, 2019
Science | By Michele Flores

JAXA, Toyota to develop manned lunar rover

JAXA, Toyota to develop manned lunar rover

The auto company teamed up with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to develop a pressurized vehicle capable of carrying astronauts on the lunar surface without the need for space suits.

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Toyota Motor Corp. have announced a project to develop a manned lunar rover that will enable astronauts to spend long periods exploring the moon's surface.

"We aim to launch such a rover into space in 2029".

The concept in the above video shows a six-wheeled vehicle that pays tribute to Toyota's Land Cruiser heritage, with a pair of round headlights at the front which are surrounded by an elongated version of the old Land Cruiser's grille bezel with TOYOTA lettering. "Having Toyota join us in the challenge of worldwide space exploration greatly strengthens our confidence..."

At JAXA, we are pursuing worldwide coordination and technological studies toward Japan's participation in global space exploration.

Toyota has revealed the autonomous rover it could soon send to the moon.

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"Manned, pressurized rovers will be an important element supporting human lunar exploration, which we envision will take place in the 2030s".

Toyota president Akio Toyodo said that cars, even now on our planet, play active roles in "making sure that people come back alive". It said the crewed, pressurized rover will use Toyota's fuel cell technology. And I think that coming back alive is exactly what is needed in this project.

Powering the Toyota Moon Rover concept will be "fuel cell electric vehicle technologies" similar to what the Japanese carmaker used in its current Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. Moreover, it is exposed to radiation and temperature conditions that are much harsher than those on Earth, as well as an ultra-high vacuum environment. In total, four expeditions are now planned that require use of the rover to traverse the Moon's surface.

JAXA will cooperate with Toyota on technologies to purify water and air in the vehicle.

"Being allowed to be a member of 'Team Japan, ' we would like to take up the challenge of space".

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