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Japan taps Toyota to build a futuristic Moon Rover



The Japanese Space Agency has teamed with Toyota to develop a giant moon rover for future astronauts. It could be finished by 2029, says JAXA.

(Photo: © Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency)

Japan wants to build the ultimate moonrover for astronauts and has led Toyota to develop a futuristic, off-road moon vehicle that could possibly launch in 2029. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency announced on Tuesday (March 1

2) that it is collaborating with vehicle manufacturer Toyota to develop the Moon Rover of the future – a massive vehicle powered by fuel cells with a maximum range of 10,000 kilometers.

"Manned rovers with pressurized cabins are an element that will play an important role in the exploration and exploitation of the lunar surface," said JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa in a statement studies in the future We are using Toyota's excellent technological capabilities in mobility, and we look forward to accelerating our technological studies to create a manned pressurized rover.

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The plan, said JAXA officials, is with Toyota on a huge, pressurized rover Typically used by two astronauts, but able to free themselves Up to four people in an emergency: If the current concept designs are correct, the Rover is huge – at least 6 meters long, has six wheels and is 5 , 2 meters wide and 3.8 meters long) The vehicle will have About 13 square meters of living space, said JAXA officials.

Two concept images of the JAXA Toyota Mondrover show an elegant, futuristic moon car with one in square windows The concept reveals that the Rover headlights and running light (this may be indicators) and brake lights are.An image shows an apparent rollout solar system for power generation.

Toyota's concept of a Japanese Moon Rover seems to use a rollup solar system for power. JAXA and Toyota are investigating the use of fuel cells for power supply.

(Image: © Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency)

By comparison, NASA's NASA rovers, deployed decades ago on the Apollo missions, could carry two astronauts (with space suits) and were powered by batteries. These vehicles had four wheels and were 10.1 feet long (3.1 m) and 7.5 feet wide (2.3 m) with a maximum height of 3.7 feet (1.14 m). The Lunar Roving Vehicles as NASA called them, were powered by batteries, according to NASA.

Related: NASA's space exploration vehicle concept in pictures

JAXA and Toyota have been working together since May 2018 on the Moon Rover project. The construction of a robust sports vehicle for the moon brings challenges, said JAXA representatives.

"The gravitation of the moon is one-sixth of the earth on Earth. Meanwhile, the moon has a complex terrain with craters, cliffs and hills," said astronaut Koichi Wakata, JAXA's vice president, in the statement. "In addition, it is exposed to radiation and temperature conditions that are much harder than conditions on Earth, as well as an ultra-high vacuum environment."

Toyota, in turn, said the company is looking forward to developing JAXA's Moon Rover. and stressed that the safety of the vehicle will be crucial for astronauts.

"In addition, cars are used in all regions of the world, and in some regions cars play an active role as partners to ensure that people come back alive," said Toyota President Akio Toyoda in the statement. "And I think that's exactly what needs to come to life in this project."

JAXA's Moon Rover projects emerge as NASA develops its own plans to bring astronauts to the Moon, first with a Moon Space Station orbiting the "Gateway" orbit. It was followed by crews of moon landings in 2026.

NASA chief Jim Bridenstine has repeatedly emphasized that the return of the US agency to the moon will be in collaboration with international partners. JAXA officials did not specifically say that the Toyota Moon Rover Project will be part of its contribution to a future mission to the mission of the human moon . The agency has stated in a joint statement with partners that they are committed to participating in NASA's lunar plans.

E-mail Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com or follow him @tariqjmalik . Follow us @SpaceTotcom and Facebook .


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