Apollo 11 anniversary: Toyota edges closer towards creating a space-travelling moon rover

Toyota just moved one step closer toward pioneering an RV fit for space travel.

Just days ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing on Saturday, the automaker announced that it has officially signed a three-year commitment agreement with Japan's space agency JAXA to develop a pressurized moon rover set to launch a decade from now.

On July 16, Toyota released a timeline detailing its plans to bring the project to life. This comes four months after the automaker announced that it was looking into partnering with JAXA to develop the fuel cell-powered behemoth.

The preliminary timetable has Toyota and JAXA finalizing specifications for a prototype during the fiscal year 2019. Manufacturing would begin in 2020 and testing is expected to happen in 2021.

The plan covers almost every year from now through 2027. In 2022, the partners expect to start testing the prototype's driving systems and by 2024, Toyota wants to start designing the actual flight model. The duo is aiming to launch the rover in 2029.

To achieve these goals, Toyota established Lunar Exploration Mobility Works, a department dedicated specifically to the rover. The Japanese car company's new workforce division will grow to about 30 employees by the end of 2019, according to a press release.

A few months back, Toyota unveiled conceptual renderings of the six-wheeled vehicle which calls for enough living space to comfortably support two occupants.

The spacecraft would also enable astronauts to live inside it without wearing space suits.

The vehicle is expected to be be at least 20 feet long, 17 feet wide and 12.4 feet high. The electric machine would be powered by fuel cells, which use clean power generation methods and emit only water. The rover would have a lunar surface range of more than 6,200 miles, according to Toyota.

JAXA wants to use the futuristic mobile home to help astronauts explore the lunar poles in search of frozen water. The agency also sets its eyes on using the technology to explore other planets.


CREDIT: Dalvin Brown | USA Today