Toyota aims for the moon with fuel cell lunar rover

Toyota's making a moon rover for Japan

Toyota revealed its plans for a manned, pressurized moon rover it hopes to land on the moon in 2029, in collaboration with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

Japan's space agency, JAXA, announced the partnership with Toyota on March 12.

The rover, which is expected to be 6 meters long, 5.2 meters wide and 3.8 meters high, will feature Toyota's fuel cell technology.

The automaker's fuel cells use clean power-generation methods and only emit water and have reduced amounts of harmful substances that the vehicle company is working to improve, Toyota Executive Vice President Shigeki Terashi said Tuesday.

Although Japan has no plan now to make a manned rocket that could send people into space, the rover could be a major contribution to an global space program in the future, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said.

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Toyota is a leader in fuel cell development back on earth, with many vehicles in testing - while its hydrogen fuel cell-powered Mirai compact auto has been on sale in the USA, Japan and Europe since 2014.

A pressurized cabin will allow the rover to transport astronauts across greater distances on the surface of the moon. "We aim to contribute through leading Japanese technologies that can potentially generate spin-off benefits", JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa said in a prepared statement. And I think that coming back alive is exactly what is needed in this project.

Lunar gravity is one-sixth of that on Earth. Through our joint studies going forward, we would like to put to use Toyota's excellent technological abilities related to mobility, and we look forward to the acceleration of our technological studies for the realization of a manned, pressurized rover.

'Meanwhile, the moon has a complex terrain with craters, cliffs, and hills. However, unlike modern electric vehicles, Toyota claims the Moon Rover will be able to cover more than 10,000 kilometres of the Lunar surface on a single charge.

Toyota and JAXA have already been collaborating on the manned, pressurized rover, according to the release. To take up such a challenge, we believe it is important to gather our country's technological capabilities and engage as "Team Japan".

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