Toyota Reaches For Stars With Fuel Cell Mission

Toyota is reaching for the stars to prove its hydrogen fuel cell technology with its plan to build a lunar rover.

It’s also something of a quiet homage to British engineer Francis (Tom) Bacon who designed the fuel cell power pack for the Apollo 11 lunar landing craft exactly 50 years ago this month. The automaker has joined the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in a three-year joint research agreement into producing a manned, pressurised vehicle for Moon terrain that uses fuel cell electric vehicle technologies.

Over the course of the project, JAXA and Toyota will manufacture, test and evaluate prototypes, with the goal of developing a manned, pressurised lunar rover and exploring the surface of the moon as part of an international project. The program will be staged between 2019 and 2021 from identifying technology needed for driving on the surface of the moon; drawing up specifications for a prototype rover; manufacturing test parts; manufacturing a prototype rover; and, finally, testing and evaluating both manufactured test parts and the prototype rover.

The mission hopes to explore the moon’s polar regions, with the aim both of investigating the possibility of using the moon’s resources – such as frozen water – and acquiring technologies that enable exploration of the surfaces of large planets.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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