Japan Jumps on Space Race’s Bandwagon with Lunar Rover

By: Norhan Mahmoud 

CAIRO, Mar. 14 (SEE)- China’s ambitious space program has energized its Japanese neighbors to beat others to the lunar draw, unveiling a first-of-its kind rover.

What brands it as a breakthrough is that inside the 13 square meters living space, astronauts will be able to takeoff their space suits. 

The 6-wheeled rover is designed to have room for two astronauts and can accommodate four in case of an emergency. Powered by fuel cells, the rover is set to shove off to space on an American rocket in-between 2029 and 2034.

Toyota Motor Corp. is developing this rover in cooperation with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). 

Toyota’s Executive Vice President Shigeki Terashi, during a symposium, expressed his enthusiasm for kick off this project, saying “as an engineer, there is no greater joy than being able to participate in such a lunar project by way of Toyota’s car-making.” 

Mr. Terashi stressed that using fuel cell batteries for electrification is counted as an “an indispensable technology.”

“Toyota believes that achieving a sustainable mobility society on Earth will involve the coexistence and widespread use of electrified vehicles, such as hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, battery electric vehicles, and fuel cell electric vehicles,” noted Terashi. 


“Having Toyota join us in the challenge of international space exploration greatly strengthens our confidence,” said JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa. “Manned rovers with pressurized cabins are an element that will play an important role in full-fledged exploration and use of the lunar surface.”

Koichi Wakata, JAXA’s Vice President,  stressed the vitality of “manned, pressurized rovers” in backing “lunar explorations” forecast in the 2030s. 

Mr. Wakata explained that the necessity of such vehicles lie in its ability to endure “harsh” ultra-high vacuum environmental conditions as well as radiations and temperatures. “Lunar gravity is one-sixth of that on Earth.” 

“For wide ranging human exploration of the moon, a pressurized rover that can travel more than 10,000 km in such environments is a necessity,” added Wakata.

JAXA’s Trekkie plans centers on utilizing technology to fully control lunar landings. Along the 2020s, JAXA schedules to send an unmanned probe to the lunar orbit as well as other ventures.

The United States has announced plans of building an outpost high above the moon. China also succeeded in touching down its unmanned probe on the satellite’s murky side in January. 

N.B.: Image and Video Are The Courtesy of Toyota

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