TOYOTA has teamed up with Japan’s space agency to create a “lunar caravan” cruiser for the Moon.
It’s hoped that astronauts may be able to live, work and travel inside the giant space-proof minibus by 2040.
Cosmonauts will even be able to live inside the minibus without a spacesuit on.
Space agency Jaxa revealed early concept images and a video of the “manned, pressurised rover”.
It’s got six huge wheels with rugged exteriors for rolling smoothly across the jagged landscape.
And there are large glass panels on the front to give astronauts a glimpse of where they’re going – even though the rover will be able to drive itself.
And the entire system is expected to be powered by hydrogen fuel cells (which already exist in some Toyota vehicles on Earth) and solar energy.
That’s good news for environmentalists, as it means the vehicle will only emit waste air and water.
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“Having Toyota join us in the challenge of international space exploration greatly strengthens our confidence,” said Hiroshi Yamakawa, Jaxa’s president.
“Manned rovers with pressurised cabins are an element that will play an important role in full-fledged exploration and use of the lunar surface.”
The giant “minibus” would measure 6 metres long, 5.2 metres wide, e 3.8 metres tall.
And inside, astronauts would be able to enjoy around 13 cubic metres of space – enough for two people to exist in relative comfort.
Jaxa also said that the pressurised rover would have a “total lunar surface cruising range” of more than 10,000 chilometri (~6,200 miles).
“Lunar gravity is one-sixth of that on Earth,” said Jaxa VP Koichi Wakata.
“Nel frattempo, the moon has a complex terrain with craters, cliffs, and hills.
“inoltre, it is exposed to radiation and temperature conditions that are much harsher than those on Earth, as well as an ultra-high vacuum environment.
“For wide ranging human exploration of the moon, a pressurized rover that can travel more than 10,000 km in such environments is necessary.”
tuttavia, it’s unlikely that astronauts would be expected to stay cooped in a rover over such a long distance.
In any case, the Japanese space agency hopes that the system can be launched as soon as 2029, giving Toyota plenty of time for testing.
“The automotive industry has long done business with the concepts of ‘hometown’ and ‘home country’ largely in mind,” said Toyota President Akio Toyoda.
“tuttavia, from now on, in responding to such matters as environmental issues of global scale, the concept of ‘home planet’, from which all of us come, will become a very important concept.
“Going beyond the frameworks of countries or regions, I believe that our industry, which is constantly thinking about the role it should fulfil, shares the same aspirations of international space exploration.
“inoltre, cars are used in all of Earth’s regions, e, in some regions, cars play active roles as partners for making sure that people come back alive.
“And I think that coming back alive is exactly what is needed in this project.
“I am extremely happy that, for this project, expectations have been placed on the thus-far developed durability and driving performance of Toyota vehicles and on our fuel cell environmental technologies.”
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