The future of space exploration could come in the form of public-private partnerships, like the one between the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Toyota to create a manned electric rover. JAXA and Toyota first agreed to team up in March 2019, and then said they were starting technology studies. Manned rovers like the one they are collaborating on will play an "important role in the full exploration and use of the lunar surface," said JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa.
Toyota and JAXA have revealed the first concept images of the rover, which they announced in August would be called the Lunar Cruiser after Toyota's famous Land Cruiser. Until the end of 2020, they will work on manufacturing test parts for the rover, which is slated to launch later in the decade.
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The Lunar Cruiser concept measures approximately 6 meters by 5, and 3.7 meters in height. In comparison, it is about the size of two minibuses.
Inside, it has around 13 square meters of living space, which Toyota says can accommodate two people.
The design must meet some difficult parameters: it must be able to travel on the surface of the Moon for six weeks, and the astronauts must be able to remove their suits safely inside.
Its first mission is scheduled to cover around 10,000 kilometers in 42 days.
To harness the energy needed for this trip, Toyota plans to use a next-generation fuel cell capable of traveling around 1,000 kilometers on a single tank.
The days and nights on the moon are each two weeks long. The rover will therefore also produce electricity using solar panels.
Due to the long night period, this energy will need to be stored for later use. The fuel cell can also use water from the power generation process for cooling and drinking water.
For safety reasons, the cruiser will also come with automated driving functions.
Original version: Mary Meisenzahl / Business Insider
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