JAXA and Toyota team for a crewed pressurized moon rover

Rodiano Bonacci
Marzo 13, 2019

Toyota unveiled the project with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency to build a rover that can be powered by fuel cells and enable astronauts to live inside it for a certain period without wearing space suits, in what would be the first such development in the world. The rover will use fuel cell electric vehicle technology.

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

Toyota and JAXA have already been collaborating on the manned, pressurized rover, according to the release.

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

Toyota's concept vehicle, revealed in a new video and series of images today, will be created to hold two astronauts and runs on solar power and fuel cell technology. 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.

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 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. Three LRVs went to the moon on separate Apollo missions (15, 16 and 17) and each of them was driven on the moon surface three times, one per day during the time the astronauts were there. The rover can accommodate two people normally, or four in an emergency.

JAXA and Toyota have been working together to study the plan since May 2018, and have now reached an agreement to move on to the next steps.

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

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

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