The auto company teamed up with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to develop a pressurized vehicle capable of carrying astronauts on the lunar surface without the need for space suits.
JAXA and Toyota said March 12 that they plan to send the pressurized, fuel cell-powered vehicle to the moon in 2029 and hope that a Japanese astronaut will use it to lead a lunar mission. The company has been studying the possibility of making the rover since last summer, but it signed a new agreement this week to accelerate the project with JAXA, Japan's space agency.
The concept proposal for the pressurised rover being studied by JAXA and Toyota is the size of two microbuses.
The rover will examine the lunar surface during the daytime and return to a space craft at night for fuel supplies, Toyota and JAXA said. It's also unclear how such a large rover would make it into orbit and on to the moon or Mars.
The space agency's president, Hiroshi Yamakawa, said: "Having Toyota join us in the challenge of worldwide space exploration greatly strengthens our confidence".
The rover, which is expected to be 6 meters long, 5.2 meters wide and 3.8 meters high, will feature Toyota's fuel cell technology. Manned rovers with pressurized cabins are an element that will play an important role in full-fledged exploration and use of the lunar surface. "However, from now on, in responding to such matters as environmental issues of global scale, the concept of "home planet", from which all of us come, will become a very important concept", Toyota President Akio Toyoda said. And I think that coming back alive is exactly what is needed in this project.
'Lunar gravity is one-sixth of that on Earth, ' explained JAXA Vice President Koichi Wakata. The LRVs remain on the surface of the moon, along with unmanned rovers from Russian Federation and China. Toyota's concept of space mobility is ideal for this mission, he adds.
Toyota wants to take its vehicles to the moon. Through our collaboration with Toyota as the starting point, we can further expand the resources of "Team Japan" in the continued pursuit of worldwide space exploration.