Toyota's making a moon rover for Japan

Toyota prepares to go into space

JAXA is planning to send manned missions to the moon between 2029 and 2034.

The automaker's fuel cells use clean power-generation methods and only emit water and have reduced amounts of harmful substances that the auto company is working to improve, Toyota Executive Vice President Shigeki Terashi said Tuesday.

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. Toyota is touting the fuel cell technology and the 10,000-mile range of the rover. JAXA president Hiroshi Yamakawa said that the cooperation between it and Toyota could generate spin-off benefits.

A pressurized cabin will allow the rover to transport astronauts across greater distances on the surface of the moon.

The rover is planned to be 6 meters long, 5.2 meters wide and 3.8 meters high, with a living space of 13 square meters for up to four people, according to their study. Meanwhile, the moon has a complex terrain with craters, cliffs, and hills.

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Power for the rover will be provided by an integrated fuel cell with enough power for 10,000km of driving.

The rover will be delivered to the Moon without any astronauts on board, but will then drive to meet the first pair who arrive to use it. The six-wheeled vehicle looks like something straight out of a sci-fi movie, and if we see research stations and even settlements on the Moon in the not-too-distant future, Toyota's fancy rover could become the vehicle of choice.

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.

Sending humans back to the Moon is something that NASA and a number of other space agencies around the world are now working towards.

'Thus far, our joint study, has examined a preliminary concept for a manned, pressurized rover system, and we have identified the technological issues that must be solved, ' Wakata said.

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