Japan Space Agency, Toyota Motors Agree On International Space Exploration

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Toyota Motor Corporation announced their agreement to consider the possibility of collaborating on international space exploration. 

Initially, JAXA and Toyota have reached an agreement to further cooperate on and make going their current joint study of a manned, pressurized rover that employs fuel cell electric vehicle technologies. 

Such a form of mobility is deemed necessary for human exploration activities on the lunar surface. Even with the limited amount of energy that can be transported to the moon, the pressurized rover would have a total lunar-surface cruising range of more than 10,000 km.

The concept proposal for the pressurised rover being studied by JAXA and Toyota is the size of two microbuses. It’s 6 metres long, 5.2 metres wide and 3.8 metres in height. It will be capable of accommodating two people and even four people in case of an emergency.

JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa, “Having Toyota join us in the challenge of international space exploration greatly strengthens our confidence. Manned rovers with pressurized cabins are an element that will play an important role in full-fledged exploration and use of the lunar surface. 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.”

Manned, pressurized rovers will be an important element supporting human lunar exploration, which has been envisioned to fall into place by 2030. This lunar rover from Toyota will likely be ready by 2029. Lunar gravity is one-sixth of that on Earth, while the moon has a complex terrain with craters, cliffs, and hills. Moreover, it is exposed to radiation and temperature conditions that are much harsher than those on Earth, as well as an ultra-high vacuum environment. For wide ranging human exploration of the moon, a pressurized rover that can travel more than 10,000 km in such environments is a necessity. Toyota’s ‘space mobility’ concept will address all these concerns.

Toyota President, Akio Toyoda said, “Going beyond the frameworks of countries or regions, I believe that our industry, which is constantly thinking about the role it should fulfil shares the same aspirations of international space exploration. Furthermore, cars are used in all of Earth’s regions, and, in some regions, cars play active roles as partners for making sure that people come back alive. And I think that coming back alive is exactly what is needed in this project. I am extremely happy that, for this project, expectations have been placed on the thus-far developed durability and driving performance of Toyota vehicles and on our fuel cell environmental technologies.”

Cosmos & Space, Science