Toyota is planning to do some "off-roading" on the Moon based on the renders of its hydrogen-powered, six-wheeled Moon rover that surfaced online.
Together with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Toyota plans to go to the Moon by 2029. The recent conceptual images of a hydrogen-powered, six-wheeled Moon rover show how the two plan to travel on the Earth's natural satellite. The lunar rover, which hasn't been named yet, can cover beyond 6,200 miles. Retractable solar panels and stored hydrogen are said to fuel the rover.
"It's an extremely challenging project, and we have high hopes for Toyota's technology," Koichi Wakata, who served as the first Japanese commander of the International Space Station (ISS) and has flown in NASA's Space Shuttle, said about the collaboration during the JAXA event.
According to Car and Driver, the Japanese government seems to be counting on Toyota to pull off a powerful lunar truck for humans. The inspiration comes from what the United States did in 1971 when two American astronauts rode the well known Lunar Roving Vehicle.
JAXA said that it could launch the Toyota rover in ten years and possibly for some off-roading "in the 2030s." The planned rover features 459 cubic feet of living and exploration space. Approximately two astronauts can fit comfortably inside it. It could also accommodate four but with many restrictions. It will be 30 percent wider compared to the U.S. highway lane at around 17 feet wide. The size of it though, when on the Moon, might be relatively small.
The rover would be around two minibuses. It is expected to be part of a project that would conduct explorations on four areas. Since JAXA plans to launch the unmanned mission ahead of the manned mission, the rover is expected to cover some distance before meeting Japan's human expedition in the future.
Japan is joining the U.S. and China in the ongoing space race. Recently, NASA together with SpaceX, launched the Crew Dragon space capsule successfully. The goal is to get Elon Musk's commercial spaceship to fly astronauts and possibly other humans into space. Musk and NASA also expressed their plans to bring American astronauts to the Moon once again. This will likely be possible given that NASA is receiving additional funding for its space missions based on the proposed budget of the Trump administration.
This article was first published in IBTimes US. Permission required for reproduction.