Toyota's making a moon rover for Japan

Toyota, JAXA to develop manned moon probe

Toyota has joined forces with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), with the aim of producing a manned, pressurised lunar rover. The use of fuel cells will make it easier to store and transport energy sources in space. The 13m² cabin will house two astronauts, and the solar-fuel-cell vehicle is created to have a range of 10,000km.

The worldwide space exploration community has its sights set on the moon and Mars.

"The automotive industry has long done business with concepts of "hometown" and "home country" largely in mind".

JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa said that "Manned rovers with pressurised cabins are an element that will play an important role in fully-fledged exploration and use of the lunar surface".

It might seem an unusual move for a auto manufacturer to venture into such a market, but with Toyota often being at the forefront of environmental technology, there is method behind the bold announcement.

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Toyota says it hopes it can be sent into space in 2029.

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Under the plan, the rover, deployed from the Gateway, will travel on the moon's surface close to the south pole for five explorations between 2029 and 2034.

"Manned, pressurized rovers will probably be an essential aspect supporting human lunar exploration, which we envision will happen within the 2030s".

A concept image of Toyota's planned moon rover.

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

Toyota, whose Prius is the bestselling hybrid electric vehicle of all time, framed the potential lunar rover as part of its greater global strategy for cars on Earth. JAXA plans to collaborate with others as "Team Japan" sets their sights on the space exploration.

"Contributing to Earth's environment can not be achieved without the widespread use of electrified vehicles".

It is capable of accommodating two people comfortably, or up to four in an emergency.

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