The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announces plans to join forces with Toyota to build a pressurized rover that will land on the Moon in 2029. International space exploration, aiming to achieve sustainable prosperity for all of humankind by expanding the domain of human activity and giving rise to intellectual properties, has its sights set on the moon and Mars. To achieve the goals of such exploration, coordination between robotic missions, such as the recent successful touchdown by the asteroid probe Hayabusa2 on the asteroid Ryugu, and human missions, such as those involving humans using pressurized rovers to conduct activities on the moon, is essential.
The six-wheeled electric vehicle will be capable of accommodating two people for a distance of 10,000 kilometers using Toyota’s fuel cell technology. At 6 meters long, 5.2 meters wide and 3.8 meters high the rover will be the size of about two minibusses. Inside, a living space of 13 square meters accommodates astronauts who will be able to enjoy lunar views without the need of their spacesuits. In case of an emergency, there is space for two more people on board.
The concept will use Toyota’s fuel cell vehicle (FCV) technology, which instead of using a battery, uses a fuel cell of oxygen and compressed hydrogen, which react with each other to generate electricity. the zero-emissions technology is already used on Toyota’s Mirai hydrogen fuel cell sedan. “Fuel cells, which use clean power-generation methods, emit only water, and, because of their high energy density, they can provide a lot of energy, making them especially ideal for the project being discussed with JAXA,” said Shigeki Terashi, Executive Vice President at Toyota.
The US-based Moon Express and ispace, are interested in mining the moon’s resources such as the water ice on the lunar surface. If separated into its components — hydrogen and oxygen — they could potentially be used as rocket fuel for vehicles already in space like Toyota’s moon rover.
“Manned, pressurized rovers will be an important element supporting human lunar exploration, which we envision will take place in the 2030s,” said Koichi Wakata, Jaxa Vice President. “We aim at launching such a rover into space in 2029.”