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Toyota Is Building Japan's Fuel Cell-Powered Moon Rover

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Toyota aims for the moon as the Japanese automotive company joins forces with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to build a fuel cell rover for lunar explorations.

The rover is projected to be launched in 2029.

Toyota, JAXA Envision Powerful Six-Wheeler For The Moon

Toyota's six-wheel concept rover can carry two passengers (four in emergencies) and travel more than 6,214 miles (10,000 kilometers) on the moon's surface, according to an official report released by Toyota.

Passengers will also be able to live in the pressurized vehicle for a fixed amount of time without having to wear their space suits. The living space is approximately 13 square meters.

The rover will land on the moon before the humans get there and travel over the surface to meet them, Endgadget reports.

During a symposium on Tuesday, March 12 in Tokyo, Toyota executive vice president Shigeki Terashi expresses his excitement at the automotive company's new project and explains the value of state-of-the-art fuel cell technology.

"Fuel cells, which use clean power-generation methods, emit only water, and, because of their high energy density, they can provide a lot of energy, making them especially suited for the project being discussed with JAXA," Terashi says, adding that the this type of vehicles emit lower amounts of harmful substances.

The use of fuel cells allows the rover to travel over a great distance on the lunar surface as well as maintain mobility that's necessary in exploring the moon. With this rover, astronauts will enjoy a good amount of freedom as they look around the moon.

Only The Beginning Of 'Team Japan'

Toyota and JAXA's concept of the rover has been in the works since May 2018.

JAXA Vice President Koichi Wakata says that such a vehicle is crucial in the agency's goals in the future.

With the moon's complex terrain and the challenge of radiation and temperature conditions, a pressurized rover that can move with ease on the surface is an absolute necessity. Toyota's concept of space mobility is ideal for this mission, he adds.

Of course, the space agency is only starting to tap into the country's great wealth of expert knowledge, technological capabilities, and human resources. JAXA plans to collaborate with others as "Team Japan" sets their sights on the space exploration.

"Through our collaboration with Toyota as the starting point, we can further expand the resources of 'Team Japan' in the continued pursuit of international space exploration," Wakata says.

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