Toyota shoots for the stars, reveals its lunar rover

Pat Wise
March 14, 2019

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.

Although Japan has no plan now to make a manned rocket that could send people into space, the rover could be a major contribution to an global space program in the future, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said.

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. It's powered by the Japanese vehicle company's fuel-cell tech (which uses solar energy). JAXA president Hiroshi Yamakawa said that the cooperation between it and Toyota could generate spin-off benefits.

The agreement is meant to promote Japanese technological knowhow. To achieve the goals of such exploration, coordination between robotic missions, such as the recent successful touchdown by the asteroid probe Hayabusa2 on the asteroid Ryugu, and human missions, such as those involving humans using pressurized rovers to conduct activities on the moon, is essential. Instead of a family sedan, the auto manufacturer is making a pressurized self-driving rover to cruise the lunar surface.

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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. Furthermore, cars are used in all of Earth's regions, and, in some regions, cars play active roles as partners for making sure that people come back alive.

JAXA says it aims to launch this new rover in 2029. And I think that coming back alive is exactly what is needed in this project. The two firms have signed an agreement that will see them cooperate on a joint study for a manned and pressurized rover. Toyota's concept of space mobility is ideal for this mission, he adds.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) have announced that they will be studying the possibility of a collaboration on worldwide space exploration.

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

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