Recently announced by JAXA and Toyota, the mission’s goals are to expand the domain of human activity and develop intellectual property on space exploration, according to a press release.
As a first step, JAXA and Toyota agreed to further cooperate on and accelerate their ongoing joint study of a manned, pressurized rover that employs fuel cell vehicle technologies. Such a form of mobility is deemed necessary for human exploration activities on the lunar surface.
Bridgestone’s assignment is to research the performance needs of tires for use on the rovers in order to help them make better contact with the surface of the moon. The initial concept proposal calls for a rover roughly the size of two microbuses that accommodates two people—up to four people in an emergency.
“We are honored to partner with JAXA and Toyota in the challenge of space exploration,” said Nizar Trigui, chief technology officer, Bridgestone Americas, during a JAXA session at the 35th Space Symposium. “We believe that our technical capabilities allow us to explore the possibilities of tire development capable of functioning even in the harshest of conditions found on the surface of the moon, and creates a higher level of mobility for mankind.”
Bridgestone has partnered with both organizations to research this next phase of human exploration, building on a joint research partnership with JAXA in the 2000s to examine the contact patch between rovers and the lunar surface, and serve as a technical partner for the Toyota rover project.
The development of an Elastic Wheel to support the rover’s weight, acceleration and braking, minimize shock absorbance and improve maneuverability enables the vehicle to cruise more than 6,000 miles on the lunar surface.