Last year, we learned more about the partnership between Toyota and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to build a manned, pressurized fuel-cell rover for the moon. Now, the two entities have agreed to nickname the vehicle Lunar Cruiser—a fitting moniker for a vehicle that promises some unusual off-road chops.
The name, of course, plays off that of the Land Cruiser 4×4, Toyota’s longest-running nameplate. Toyota says it chose the name for 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. ‘” The name might not be as inspirational as the names of Mars rovers Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity, Curiosity, and Perseverance, but it works to reinforce the Toyota brand.
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Toyota and JAXA expect to launch the Lunar Cruiser in the latter half of this decade. Right now, they’re busy making test parts for the rover and performing simulations on power and heat dissipation performance while the rover is in operation.
Based on what we know about the concept proposal, the rover measures just under 20 feet long and weighs just under 14,000 Earth-gravity pounds with a GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) of 10 tons. Unlike the spacious and accommodating Land Cruiser, the much larger Lunar Cruiser is meant to fit just two astronauts. Toyota has said the six-wheeler will boast a lunar cruising range of more than 10,000 kilometers (6,214 miles). The rover will spend six years traveling that total distance, which is roughly the equatorial circumference of the moon.
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