A pressurised lunar rover being developed jointly by JAXA and Toyota has been nicknamed the “Lunar Cruiser”.
In an August 28 statement, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Toyota Motor Corporation revealed that they had chosen to nickname a lunar rover the pair are jointly developing, the “Lunar Cruiser.” The name is inspired by the Toyota Land Cruiser.
“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.”
A joint research agreement to develop the manned pressurised lunar rover was signed on June 12, 2019. The proposed Lunar Cruiser will measure 6 meters long, 5.2 meters wide and 3.8 meters tall. It will feature a small living space of 13 cubic meters and will be capable of accomodating a crew of two people under regular operations and four in an emergency.
The Lunar Cruiser will be capable of supporting long-duration missions with a cruising range of more than 10,00 kilometers. It will utilize an electric powertrain and deployable solar panels to recharge the rover’s onboard batteries.
JAXA and Toyota are currently working to manufacture test parts for each of the Lunar Cruiser’s core elements. Following testing both in the real world and with the use of computer simulations, the test parts will be utilised to create the first prototype of the vehicle.
The Lunar Cruiser will likely be a part of NASA’s Artemis program that hopes to return humans to the Moon by 2024. According to the August 28 statement, JAXA expects the first Lunar Cruiser to be launched “in the latter half of the 2020s.”