The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has announced that the crewed pressurized rover it’s developing in cooperation with Toyota has been named. The pressurized rover is officially nicknamed the “LUNAR CRUISER.” JAXA and Toyota announced in the past that they have been conducting joint research on the pressurized rover, which uses fuel-cell electric vehicle technology.
The two agencies say the name LUNAR CRUISER was chosen because of the familiar feeling it offers the people involved in developing and manufacturing the vehicle prototype. The agencies also feel that the name will give familiarity for the vehicle to the general public. The name references the Toyota Land Cruiser SUV and was chosen based on the quality, durability, and reliability expected of the pressurized rubber.
JAXA and Toyota signed a joint research agreement to work on the rover in June 2019. The launch date for the rover is expected to be in the latter half of the 2020s. The organizations are currently working to build test parts for each technological element and prototype the rover itself during the fiscal year 2020.
The testing involves the use of simulations to confirm power and heat dissipation performance while driving and the manufacturing assessment of prototype tires. Virtual reality is being heavily used during the process. The LUNAR CRUISER is also part of the discussions to create a new lunar society pioneered by the manned pressurized rover.
Those meetings focus on how the rover could become the starting point of a vision for a future lunar surface-based society. That study is also looking at the challenges associated with creating such a society.