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Japan to send Toyota to Moon for surface exploration

The Week 2019-03-13 20:44:00

Japanese space agency Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is planning a moon landing by 2029 and wants its astronauts to explore the lunar surface in a Toyota.

JAXA and Toyota on Tuesday announced that they will collaborate on international space exploration. The Japanese auto major is developing a manned, pressurised rover that uses Toyota's fuel cell vehicle (FCV) technology.

Koichi Wakata, JAXA vice president, said that the agency is aiming to launch the rover into space in 2029.

An FCV is a type of electric vehicle that uses a fuel cell of oxygen and compressed hydrogen instead of using a battery. Oxygen and compressed hydrogen react with each other to generate electricity. The zero-emissions technology is already used on Toyota's Mirai sedan.

Toyota's proposed lunar rover will use zero-emission electric fuel cell technology | JAXA & Toyota Motor Corporation

Toyota’s ‘space mobility’ concept for the pressurised rover is the size of two microbuses. It envisions a 6-metre by 5.3-metre vehicle standing 3.8-metre tall, which is enough for two. The rover would have a total lunar surface cruising range of more than 10,000 km.

The moon presents many special challenges for any vehicle like gravity which is one-sixth of Earth's, and the lunar surface is full of craters, cliffs, and hills. Toyota is known for its all-terrain vehicles, which are considered to be one of the best. However, one has to wait to till 2029 to know what a Toyota "all-terrain moon rover" is like.