JAXA and Toyota Partner, Focus on Future Lunar Mobility

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Toyota Motor Corp. collaboration on space mobility and exploration is latest evidence of increased technology transfer and cooperation among aerospace and automotive industry players.

Stock photos / stock illustrations from iurii / Shutterstock.

Officials at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Toyota Motor Corp. in Tokyo have taken a first step toward collaborating on international space exploration, having agreed to accelerate their ongoing joint study of a manned, pressurized rover powered by fuel cell technologies to enable lunar mobility.

International space exploration is centered on the moon and Mars, and requires coordination of unmanned missions, such as the recent touchdown by the asteroid probe Hayabusa2 on the asteroid Ryugu, and manned missions, such as those involving humans using pressurized rovers to conduct activities on the moon. When it comes to challenging missions, such as lunar or Martian exploration, various countries are competing to advance their technologies, but also advancing their cooperative efforts, officials affirm.

“At JAXA, we are pursuing international coordination and technological studies toward Japan’s participation in international space exploration. We aim to contribute through leading Japanese technologies that can potentially generate spin-off benefits. Having Toyota join us in the challenge of international space exploration greatly strengthens our confidence,” JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa says.

“Manned rovers with pressurized cabins are an element that will play an important role in full-fledged exploration and use of the lunar surface. For this, we would like to concentrate our country’s technological abilities and conduct technological studies,” Yamakawa adds. “Through our joint studies going forward, we would like to put to use Toyota’s excellent technological abilities related to mobility, and we look forward to the acceleration of our technological studies for the realization of a manned, pressurized rover.”

“The automotive industry has long done business with the concepts of ‘hometown’ and ‘home country’ largely in mind. However, from now on, in responding to such matters as environmental issues of global scale, the concept of ‘home planet’, from which all of us come, will become a very important concept,” Toyota President Akio Toyoda explains. “Going beyond the frameworks of countries or regions, I believe that our industry, which is constantly thinking about the role it should fulfill, shares the same aspirations of international space exploration.

“Cars are used in all of Earth’s regions, and, in some regions, cars play active roles as partners for making sure that people come back alive. And I think that coming back alive is exactly what is needed in this project,” Toyoda adds. “I am extremely happy that, for this project, expectations have been placed on the thus-far developed durability and driving performance of Toyota vehicles and on our fuel cell environmental technologies.”

Read more: Toyota takes up challenge of space, brings electrified, automated vehicle technologies

Courtney E. Howard  is editorial director and content strategist at SAE International. Contact her by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Courtney E. Howard brings 25 years of experience to the role of editorial director and content strategist at SAE International, where she specializes in and focuses on cutting-edge mobility engineering technologies and applications in high-tech articles, research reports, and multimedia such as webinars, podcasts, and videos.