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Toyota will develop a manned fuel-cell lunar rover

13 March 2019

"We aim at launching such a rover into space in 2029", he added.

Toyota has revealed the autonomous rover it could soon send to the moon.

Size-wise, the rover will be around the size of two minibusses and will have 13 square meters of habitable space for astronauts to move around inside while they're exploring the moon's surface.

Toyota's announcement of the agreement is somewhat vague in its language, noting that the company and JAXA now have an agreement to "consider the possibility of collaborating on global space exploration".

Toyota is a leader in fuel cell development back on earth, with many vehicles in testing - while its hydrogen fuel cell-powered Mirai compact auto has been on sale in the USA, Japan and Europe since 2014.

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"Through our joint studies going forward, we would like to put to use Toyota's excellent technological abilities related to mobility, and we look forward to the acceleration of our technological studies for the realization of a manned, pressurized rover", Yamakawa continued. Toyota is touting the fuel cell technology and the 10,000-mile range of the rover.

-JAXA President Hiroshi YamakawaThe automotive industry has long done business with the concepts of "hometown" and "home country" largely in mind. Meanwhile, the moon has a complex terrain with craters, cliffs, and hills.

Running on a fuel cell, the lunar vehicle will only emit water and surplus air. The LRVs remain on the surface of the moon, along with unmanned rovers from Russian Federation and China. Three LRVs went to the moon on separate Apollo missions (15, 16 and 17) and each of them was driven on the moon surface three times, one per day during the time the astronauts were there.

The space agency is hoping to launch a rover by 2029, with human exploration missions to follow not long after.

The vehicle uses Toyota's fuel cell vehicle technologies and would have a cruising range of more than 6,000 miles on the surface of the moon, despite limited amounts of fuel that can be brought there. The rover can accommodate two people normally, or four in an emergency.

Toyota will develop a manned fuel-cell lunar rover