Get to Know Toyota’s Futuristic Moon Rover

Aug 27, 2019 | GOV, Japan, NEWS

Culture & Travel 

You’re not going to believe what’s coming in store this 2030. Toyota has teamed up with Japan’s space agency to make the biggest and most ambitious moon rover yet

Japan is no stranger to technological breakthroughs. Now, the country is leading the scene once more as it plans to perfect the best moon rover yet in just 10 years.

The country aims to send astronauts to the moon before China. This multi-manned mission is expected to happen in 2030. The proposal was submitted by Japan’s Space Agency JAXA to challenge China’s timeline which projected to do the same thing in 2036.

The Futuristic Ride

Of course, astronauts need a fantastic vehicle to match the country’s effort, and that will come to life with the help of Toyota. The company plans to build a six-wheeled vehicle big enough to fit 2 people in its 140 square feet of habitable space. However, this could carry as much as 4 people should there be emergencies.

It is set to be powered by solar and fuel cell technology and will take the astronauts on a 621-mile journey. The solar panels are deployable to make charging easier. It will also be equipped with communication equipment and a front winch to get itself out of issues such as jams.

The said ride is expected to be 12 feet tall, 17 feet wide, and 20 feet long, similar to the size of two microbuses. The best part is, astronauts, don’t even need to wear a spacesuit while inside the vehicle thanks to pressurization.

“The rover will be used for missions to explore the moon’s polar regions, with the aim both of investigating the possibility of using the moon’s resources ― such as frozen water ― and of acquiring technologies that enable exploration of the surfaces of massive heavenly bodies,” according to Toyota’s statement.

While the project may be ambitious, Japan has high hopes to make it. Should it be successful, it would change the “magnificent desolation” perspective of the moon.

Timeline

Developing a vehicle designed for moon exploration isn’t exactly easy. Toyota and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency or JAXA signed a three-year joint research agreement from 2019 to 2021.

To meet their deadlines, Toyota and JAXA plans to complete different phases of the vehicle’s development. This year, they will focus on identifying the elements that they need to drive on the moon’s surface. The prototype will also be drawn up.

Next year, the companies will start manufacturing important test parts to meet the technological elements for the prototype rover which will be tested and evaluated in 2021. By 2027, the companies are expected to finish manufacturing and testing the quality and performance of the flight model just in time for its launch in 2030.

The vehicle is set to arrive on the moon earlier than the astronauts and will drive autonomously to welcome them.

Quest to the Moon

Japan is not the only country that aims to explore the moon. India initially wanted a piece of the cake but was forced to postpone its plan due to a technical snag. The launch of the probe named Chandrayaan 2 was canceled less than an hour before the blast. This mishap greatly affected the country’s aim to be the fourth country to land a spacecraft on the lunar surface.

“A technical snag was observed in launch vehicle system at 1 hour before the launch. As a measure of abundant precaution, #Chandrayaan2 launch has been called off for today. Revised launch date will be announced later,” said the Indian Space Research Organization in a tweet.

Currently, only the United States, China, and Russia have successfully landed space crafts on the moon.

Now, it seems that another race is beginning. Aside from Japan, China, and India, Donald Trump, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk have also announced their goal to get people back to the moon.

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