The famous car maker announced that the company’s goal this year will not only focus on making off-road vehicles but is devoted to exploring other fields that will soon open an opportunity for off-world use. Earlier this week, Japan’s national space agency set up a meeting together with Toyota’s managing officers. The result is an unexpected team-up of both companies, derived from Toyota’s ultimate goal which is to build a moon rover that future astronauts will use to travel around the lunar surface.
The Features of the Proposed Lunar Rover
The proposed rover is estimated to be about 20 feet long and 17 feet wide and will build a 140-cubic foot cabin developed to accommodate two passengers and carry four passengers if an
To mobilize the said rover, it will be powered by a fuel cell technology, the same system that Toyota used in some of its earthbound vehicles. Fuel cells, as developed by Toyota, run on oxygen, as well as, hydrogen which produces only water. Meaning to say, the rover will not pollute the lunar surface, unlike other commercial fuels which emit toxic substances.
Unique Characteristic of a Lunar Rover
If the proposed Lunar Rover sparked interest from NASA, it must have a unique quality that may be vital in future missions to the moon and other foreign places. NBC news said that the rover would have a range of more than 6,200 miles which shows a significant difference over the NASA lunar buggies brought to the moon on the Apollo 15, 16 and 17 past missions.
Using Toyota’s Lunar Rover, it will set a new record since those former buggies were designed only for shorter trips with Apollo 17 astronauts Gene Cernan and Jack Schmidt set the distance range for a total of 22.3 miles on three separate explorations in December 1972.
Toyota’s Lunar Rover is foreseen as a Lunar RV, where the crews can dive and work all day, then even eat or sleep inside without having to spend a lot of time driving back to the lander every time. NASA expressed that it will be a massive improvement over Apollo’s’ lunar trucks, citing that astronauts had to return to their lander each night because of limited distance these buggies offered.
NASA’s hard-earned lessons on Apollo’s tri missions
It has come to NASA that using the same features that operated its electric vehicles during Apollo’s missions across the lunar surface in 1970 will only hinder astronauts from exploring farther. Aside from that, it needed a new rover that has excellent resistance to long term environmental complication such as dust abrasion, and with an ability to survive, as well as, operate in an extreme radiation condition.
Learning from its shortcomings, the company grabbed its chance to launch the first ever vehicle that looks like a modern off-world SUV.
What to expect on the incoming Lunar Rover?
The proposed rover is designed not only for astronauts to explore farther distances but also intended to have an enclosed and pressurized cabin. Meaning to say, the Lunar RV is capable of traveling both short and more extended range of distances with emergency power module during its habitation. In most cases, astronauts will need pressurized rovers to traverse longer distances in search for water ice and other elements required.
A partnership that can open thousands of possibilities
The Toyota-NASA teaming up in developing the first-ever SUV-like Lunar Rover will be the first in history. It shows that with the advancement of technology, businesses as big as Toyota does not only produce auto vehicles that feed humanity’s hunger for luxury cars but also embraces the fact that the company has a lot to offer. This partnership opens an opportunity for both companies, especially Toyota, to explore another craft which, if deemed successful, can be a big help to our quest on unfolding Lunar mysteries.
Final Plans on the proposed project
According to Koichi Wakata, Vice-President of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said in a written statement that the space agency would be launching the new Lunar Rover in 2029. It added that developing a manned and pressurized rovers will create a big step in supporting lunar exploration and a vital element in discoveries that can change human life in the future.