Toyota may already be one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of Earth-bound vehicles, but the Japanese automaker is looking to expand its horizons to the moon.
Toyota and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have confirmed an agreement to “consider the possibility of collaborating on international space exploration”.
The vehicle will be capable of carrying two astronauts allowing them to stay inside it without having to wear their spacesuits. the rover is still in a concept phase but is said to measure around 6 meters in length, 5.2 meters in width, and 3.8 meters tall.
Within its pressurized cabin, the rover has around 13.0 cubic meters of living space. It’s designed to accommodate two people under normal circumstances, although it has a maximum capacity for four people in emergency situations.
“It is the greatest joy for engineers to be involved in projects on the surface of the moon. I’m really excited,”
– Shigeki Terashi, an executive vice president of Toyota, told a symposium held by JAXA in Tokyo.
The vehicle has electric motors powered by hydrogen fuel-cells and onboard batteries, and have a cruising range of over 10,000 kilometers. In addition to generating power for the vehicle, the hydrogen fuel-cells will also help to filter the air inside the cabin.
The development of the rover will be hastened and will be aimed to aid human exploration of the Moon. The first manned missions to the Moon are said expected to commence in the 2030s, while JAXA is aiming to launch the rover in 2029 before the missions kick off.
Japan is one of the many countries that is largely investing in completing the journey to the moon. China became the first nation to land an unmanned probe on the far away side of the moon recently, Israel began its maiden mission to the moon last month, India is planning to introduce its own rover by the end of this year, and the US plans to create a min-outpost into the orbit of the moon to act as a station for manned mission to the moon and Mars.