Toyota, Japan space agency join forces to develop moon rover

Mindy Sparks
March 13, 2019

The carmaker is working with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency to build a pressurized rover for exploring the moon. JAXA is aiming to launch the system in 2029. "Fuel cells, which use clean power-generation methods, emit only water, and, due to their high energy density, they can provide a lot of energy, making them especially ideal for the project being discussed with JAXA", said Toyota Executive Vice President Terashi. In total, four expeditions are now planned that require use of the rover to traverse the Moon's surface.

Toyota President, Akio Toyoda said, "Going beyond the frameworks of countries or regions, I believe that our industry, which is constantly thinking about the role it should fulfil shares the same aspirations of worldwide space exploration".

"We aim to launch such a rover into space in 2029". This would boost the scientific potential of any Moon mission, and allow astronauts to study various features of the surface, collect samples from afar, and conduct experiments under a variety of conditions.

Toyota revealed plans for a moon rover in collaboration with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on Tuesday.

The Toyota Jaxa Lunar explorer is the size of two microbuses
The Toyota Jaxa Lunar explorer is the size of two microbuses

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.

Today, Toyota announced a somewhat vague agreement with JAXA that could result in a revolutionary lunar rover. Even with the limited amount of energy that can be transported to the moon, the pressurized rover would have a total lunar-surface cruising range of more than 10,000 km. 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.

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