This isn't the first time an automotive manufacturer has partnered with a space agency to develop a lunar vehicle.
The use of fuel cells allows the rover to travel over a great distance on the lunar surface as well as maintain mobility that's necessary in exploring the moon. The zero-emissions technology is already used on Toyota's Mirai sedan.
Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota Motor Corporation, said the opportunity will not only create the change for Toyota to represent its home country, but build vehicles for its home planet. And I think that coming back alive is exactly what is needed in this project. It said the crewed, pressurized rover will use Toyota's fuel cell technology.
Astronauts would be able to ride in the vehicle without their space suits on, while still having enough room for them to get in and out while wearing the bulky outfits. This will likely be possible given that NASA is receiving additional funding for its space missions based on the proposed budget of the Trump administration.
"We aim to launch such a rover into space in 2029".
"Gravity on the moon is one-sixth of the gravity on Earth". Meanwhile, the moon has a complex terrain with craters, cliffs, and hills. "Additionally, it is exposed to temperature and radiation conditions that are much harsher than those on Earth, and also an ultra-high vacuum environment", explained Koichi Wakata, JAXA Vice President. The pressurised Moon Rover offers a living space of 13 cubic metres, which Toyota claims can accommodate two people comfortably. Toyota's concept of space mobility is ideal for this mission, he adds.
While the lunar rover is not ready to launch yet, JAXA said it had helped identify the technological issues that need to be solved. Now it's using its technology to conquer space.
"At JAXA, we are pursuing worldwide coordination and technological studies toward Japan's participation in global space exploration".
According to Toyota's executive vice president, Shigeki Terashi, the project will be extremely challenging for the company.