Fuel cells to power Toyota's moon rover

March 15, 2019 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Toyota fuel cell-driven moon rover
Toyota is exploring opportunities for collaboration with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in international space exploration. As a first step, a manned fuel cell vehicle is planned for the exploration of the moon, and perpaps later, planets.

Since May 2018, Toyota has been working with the JAXA on a study for an all-terrain vehicle with a pressurized cabin: On 13 square meters, two or even four astronauts can temporarily work and live without having to wear space suits. The six-meter-long concept vehicle serves as a mobile space station that can be controlled both by the occupants and remotely. Autonomous driving will also possible.

In conjunction with the efficient fuel cell propulsion system, space travelers could explore the moon's surface. Despite the limited amount of energy that can be transported to the moon, the rover is expected to offer a total range of more than 10,000 kilometers.

International space research has been targeting the Moon and Mars for some time. In addition to robotic missions such as the recent landing of the Hayabusa 2 probe on the asteroid Ryugu, manned missions are also essential for the exploration. Different countries compete to develop their technologies, but at the same time promote cooperation.

"At JAXA, we support international coordination and technological studies on Japan's participation in international space exploration," said JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa. "Our goal is to contribute and create potential benefits through leading Japanese technologies. The fact that Toyota is joining us in international space research strengthens our confidence enormously. Pressurized manned rovers play an important role in the full exploration and exploitation of the lunar surface."

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