Japan's manned lunar rover gets an official nickname
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Toyota Motor Corporation have released the official nickname for their manned pressurized, long-range lunar rover that is powered by fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) technology. It's been dubbed the Lunar Cruiser.
If humans are wanting to establish a permanent manned presence on the Moon, it will require more than building rockets, robotic rovers, and landers. It will also require the development of surface transports that are capable of carrying out the same jobs as their terrestrial counterparts to support a new lunar society.
Since June 13, 2019, JAXA and Toyota have been working together as part of "Team Japan" to develop a pressurized rover to be deployed within the next decade. With a range of 10,000 km (6,200 mi) thanks to a fuel cell/solar power system, the manned rover would be about the size of two minibuses and carry two passengers, or up to four in an emergency. By using a combination of fuel cell and solar panels, the Cruiser can recycle water back into hydrogen to increase the driving range.
According to JAXA, the name Lunar Cruiser was derived from Toyota's Land Cruiser SUV line and was chosen because of its familiarity to both developers and the general public.
Currently, the partners are using computer simulations to test the vehicle's power and heat dissipation performance while driving, as well as virtual reality and full-scale mock-ups to design the interior layout. In addition, they are manufacturing components for testing with a particular emphasis on the manufacture of prototype lunar tires.
As part of a larger effort, JAXA and Toyota are also discussing how the Lunar Cruiser and similar vehicles might one day help to establish a surface society on the Moon in the coming years.