Toyota Aims to Send Lunar Rover Into Space in 2029

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JAXA's Vice President Koichi Wakata and Toyota Executive Vice President Shigeki Terashi announced the project at a symposium on space exploration in Tokyo on Tuesday.

A spokesman for Toyota, which plans to ramp up fuel-cell cars as a zero-emission alternative to gasoline vehicles, said the project would give the company a chance to test its technologies in the moon's harsh environment and improve them.

Speaking about the Moon Rover, Toyota President Akio Toyoda said, "The automotive industry has long done business with the concepts of "hometown" and "home country" largely in mind".

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JAXA anticipates it will be ready to send a lunar rover to the moon in 2029 with more manned missions planned throughout the 2030s. Toyota and JAXA have been jointly studying the concept of a manned, pressurized rover since May of 2018.

Toyota said its automated driving technologies and fuel-cell know-how should enable the rover to travel more than 10,000 kilometers on the moon's rough surface.

With the moon's complex terrain and the challenge of radiation and temperature conditions, a pressurized rover that can move easily on the surface is an absolute necessity. We aim to contribute through leading Japanese technologies that can potentially generate spin-off benefits.

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Toyota's next challenge is out of this world. In the future, companies will likely work to develop concepts and production vehicles for their "home planet".

A pressurized cabin will allow the rover to transport astronauts across greater distances on the surface of the moon. For this, we would like to concentrate our country's technological abilities and conduct technological studies.

"Going beyond the frameworks of countries or regions, I believe that our industry, which is constantly thinking about the role it should fulfill, shares the same aspirations of global space exploration", Toyoda added. The rover will be pressurized and have a claimed range of over 10,000 km.

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Toyota and JAXA have already been collaborating on the manned, pressurized rover, according to the release. And I think that coming back alive is exactly what is needed in this project.