Toyota Motor Corporation and the Japanese Space Agency JAXA start their research and development work on a manned fuel cell powered spacecraft. Within the framework of the three-year project, prototypes will be jointly manufactured, tested and evaluated. The goal is the development of a manned rover with pressurized cabin, with which the lunar surface can be explored in the context of international projects.
The carmaker and the space agency have been working on corresponding rover studies since May 2018: the first models, which are also designed for automated driving, show vehicles in which up to four astronauts can live without space suits in a cabin measuring up to 13 square meters. The fuel cell propulsion system is expected to enable ranges of more than 10,000 kilometers.
Past March, an intensification of cooperation was announced. In the first year of the project, which will initially run until the end of fiscal 2021, the technological elements required for driving on the lunar surface will be identified. In addition, precise specifications will be drawn up for a rover prototype, which will initially be based on a production vehicle. On July 1, 2019, Toyota founded the Lunar Exploration Mobility Works, whose department is to be expanded to around 30 members by the end of the year.