JAXA partners with Toyota to develop a moon rover
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has partnered with Toyota to develop a fuel cell moon rover vehicle after signing a three-year joint agreement on Tuesday. Having previously announced their collaboration in a press conference earlier this year, the agreement will see the two companies come together to co-develop prototypes for a pressurised, manned lunar rover capable of hosting crewed explorations of the moon’s surface.
According to early concepts of the rover released by the two companies earlier this year, it will be the size of two micro-buses (six metres long, five metres wide, three and a half metres tall) with six wheels and be able to carry two astronauts, or four in an emergency situation. The range of the rover will be over 10,000km thanks to its on-board fuel cells, and will also feature deployable solar panels, a front winch and be equipped with communication equipment at this stage.
The three-year agreement will be broken up with a different phase of development to be focused on in each fiscal year. 2019 will consist of drawing up prototype specifications and identifying technological elements that need to be developed in order to drive on the moon’s surface. Year two (2020) will see the process of manufacturing parts and designing a physical prototype take place, before the final year tests the prototype and it’s parts to determine suitability for production in the future.
The target launch date of the lunar rover mission to the moon is currently set for 2029.
17 July 2019