Toyota Inks Deal With Japan On New Rover For Moon And Mars
14 March 2019 - motor1
Toyota will work with the Japanese space agency JAXA to produce a pressurized lunar rover.
Is there anything Toyota can't do? They don't seem to think so. In fact, it appears that the Supra might not be the most exciting news to come from the Japanese manufacturer this month.
Toyota has come to an agreement with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to begin research & development into a new moon rover. The manned, pressurized craft, which wears an FJ Crusier-esque grille in the concept renderings, looks like something off the cover illustration of a pulp science-fiction paperback. Toyota aims to make their concept into science fact.
The payload of any spacecraft that would be transporting this rover to the moon would be understandably limited. After all, it takes a lot of thrust to leave the Earth's atmosphere and launch into space, so every pound counts. Toyota thinks that by utilizing fuel cell technology, they'll be able to create a rover with a range of over 10,000 kilometers, which is nearly enough to drive around the moon's equatorial circumference (10,916 kilometers, in case you were wondering).
JAXA's president, Hiroshi Yamakawa, stated that "Manned rovers with pressurized cabins are an element that will play an important role in fully fledged exploration and use of the lunar surface. For this, we would like to concentrate our country's technological abilities and conduct technological studies. Through our joint studies, we would like to put Toyota's excellent technological abilities related to mobility to use. We look forward to the acceleration of our technological studies for the realization of a manned, pressurized rover."
The proposed rover will be roughly equivalent in size to a pair of small buses or motorcoaches, and will measure six meters in length. Interior volume will be 13 cubic meters, capable of housing two astronauts (four in an emergency).
This wouldn't be the first time that the automotive industry has looked to the Moon. The original lunar rover, developed in the 1960s, had wire-mesh wheels designed by Goodyear.