15:10 GMT +322 October 2019
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    People work on the production line of the Toyota Motor Prius at the company's Tsutsumi plant in Toyota, Aichi prefecture on December 4, 2014

    Toyota Unveils Its Cosmic Collaboration for Futuristic Moon Rover

    © AFP 2019 / KAZUHIRO NOGI
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    Many major national space agencies are currently looking to utilise the resource of the Moon and its shadowed craters through the development of new technologies. NASA has previously used "moon buggies" on the final three Apollo moon missions, in 1971 and 1972, respectively, and plans to have astronauts on the Moon's south pole by 2024.

    Toyota has announced the cosmic-scale launch of its off-road moon rover of the future for astronauts.

    The joint effort by Japan's world-renowned car company and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has been signed for the next 3 years to collaborate in the creation of a pressurised lunar rover and include cutting-edge fuel-cell electric-vehicle technologies.

    Toyota announced in a statement that "JAXA and Toyota will manufacture, test and evaluate prototypes, with the goal of developing a manned, pressurised lunar rover and exploring the surface of the moon as part of an international project."

    They also added that the time-frame which this effort will take place will run starting this fiscal year and through 2021.

    Toyota revealed the creation of its Lunar Exploration Mobility Works in July, which will eventually employ 30 people to take part in the project.

    JAXA officials have explained that the plan for the collaboration with Toyota is to construct a "huge, pressurised rover that will be typically crewed by two astronauts but capable of accommodating up to four people in an emergency."

    "If current concept designs hold true, the rover will be huge — at least 20 feet (6 meters) long, have six wheels, and measure 17 feet (5.2 m) wide and 12.4 feet (3.8 m) high. The vehicle will have about 140 square feet (13 square meters) of living space." 

    There are currently two concept designs for the JAXA-Toyota rover. Both show show a futuristic and gleaming lunar car with a cockpit like a nose sheltered by sharp angular windows.

    The rover will be solar powered and have headlights, running lights, and brake lights like a regular car.

    The first prototype for the rover is planned to be completed by 2022 and a test-flight model is scheduled for 2027, culminating in a full-scaled flight in 2029.

    The vehicle is planned to be used to explore the polar regions of the moon and look into the possibility of harnessing the moons resources such as frozen water, as well as providing examples of new technologies to be used on other exploration missions, according to Toyota representatives.

    The revelation of the new rover comes as the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landings on the 20th of July, the first time Man that ever walked on the moon.

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    Tags:
    Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), space, moon, Toyota
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