JAXA and Toyota to jointly develop manned Lunar Rover
JAXA and Toyota to jointly develop manned Lunar Rover
Toyota, JAXA to develop manned moon probe
14 March, 2019, 01:13
JAXA's Vice President Koichi Wakata and Toyota Executive Vice President Shigeki Terashi announced the project at a symposium on space exploration in Tokyo on Tuesday.
Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda said the project shows confidence in the "durability and driving performance" of the automaker's vehicles and its fuel cell technology for powering electric cars. Toyota is touting the fuel cell technology and the 10,000-mile range of the rover.
Toyota is a leader in fuel cell development back on earth, with many vehicles in testing - while its hydrogen fuel cell-powered Mirai compact auto has been on sale in the USA, Japan and Europe since 2014.
The announcement also came with photos and videos of Toyota's proposed lunar rover.
Size-wise, the rover will be around the size of two minibusses and will have 13 square meters of habitable space for astronauts to move around inside while they're exploring the moon's surface.
With the moon's complex terrain and the challenge of radiation and temperature conditions, a pressurized rover that can move easily on the surface is an absolute necessity.
With a range of over 10,000 km (over 6,200 miles), such a vehicle would give Moon travelers the ability to explore a huge area around a lunar landing site.
Under the plan, the rover, deployed from the Gateway, will travel on the moon's surface close to the south pole for five explorations between 2029 and 2034.
"I believe that our industry, which is constantly thinking about the role it should fulfill, shares the same aspirations of worldwide space exploration", Toyoda said.
JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa, "Having Toyota join us in the challenge of global space exploration greatly strengthens our confidence". And I think that coming back alive is exactly what is needed in this project.
"Manned rovers with pressurised cabins are an element that will play an important role in fully fledged exploration and use of the lunar surface", he said.
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.
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