Back in July 2019, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) announced a three-year joint research agreement to develop a manned, pressurized lunar rover to explore the surface of the moon. More impressively, the rover is planned to utilize electric fuel cells.
Now, more than a year later, the firms have come up with a nickname for their project. They have decided to call their rover the "Lunar Cruiser" and have also revealed it will be used to hopefully create lunar-based societies.
"The nickname LUNAR CRUISER was chosen because of the familiar feeling it offers the people involved in the development and manufacture of the vehicle prototype as part of the joint research project as well as the familiarity it will provide the general public," wrote JAXA in a press release.
"The name, which references the Toyota Land Cruiser SUV, was decided upon based on the quality, durability, and reliability expected of the pressurized lunar rover, and the concept that Toyota has long held to for the Land Cruiser, which was for people to “come back alive,” especially true for the lunar rover as it will be traversing the harsh environment of the moon’s surface."
The rover is set to be completed in the latter half of 2020. Currently, the firms are using simulations to test the rover's power and heat dissipation performance, prototype tires, and cabin. The firms stated they are also employing virtual reality and full-scale models to assess the rover's interiors.
But that's not all. The companies have been building rapport with several other industries on the potential of "a lunar society pioneered by the manned pressurized rover" (also known as Team Japan Study Meeting). These meetings explore how their new rover could become a starting point of a future lunar surface-based society.
And they are taking this mission very seriously. JAXA and Toyota said they will gather the knowledge and capabilities of different enterprises in order to achieve their dream of a sustained human presence on the moon. We wish them luck!