Toyota and JAXA to build lunar rover

By CARSIFU | 16 July 2019

TOKYO: Toyota Motor Corporation and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced a signed three-year joint research agreement for a manned, pressurized lunar rover that uses fuel cell electric vehicle technologies.

Over the course of three years, JAXA and Toyota will manufacture, test, and evaluate prototypes, with the goal of developing the rover to explore the surface of the moon as part of an international project.

This year, the two companies will identify the technical elements required to be developed for driving on the surface of the moon.

Also included are the specifications of the prototype which will use a modified version of a standard production vehicle as its base.

The following year, test parts for each technological element will be manufactured to help build the prototype rover.

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By the third year (2021), testing will begin for the manufactured parts and the prototype.

JAXA intends to develop the rover to conduct exploratory missions to the moon's polar regions to investigate the possibility of utilising its frozen water and other resources.

The agency also intends to use the rover in future missions to explore other massive heavenly bodies.

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On July 1, Toyota established a dedicated Lunar Exploration Mobility Works where it plans to expand the department's workforce to approximately 30 members by the end of the year.

By 2022, a full-scale prototype rover should be completed along with verified data on driving systems required to explore the moon's polar regions.

From there, the actual rover will be designed by 2024 before testing its performance and durability in order to begin building it in 2027 and subsequently launching it in 2029.

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