Toyota has taken further steps in its space programme, joining a new group that’s investing in businesses and groups working on potentially ground-breaking technologies.
Toyota Motor Corporation is one of the first investment partners in the Space Frontier Fund. This has been set up by a new company, SPARX Innovation for the Future*, to support human resources and technology development in space-related industries.
The formal corporate announcement, available here, shows Toyota and its fellow partners in the SPARX Group have together committed eight billion yen (more than £60 million), with a target of the fund reaching 15 billion yen (more than £113 million) by the end of 2020. The capital will be used by globally competitive start-ups and other organisations working on innovation projects linking space exploration with the technologies of the future.
Toyota has revealed its vision for a hydrogen fuel cell-powered, pressurised lunar rover that space travellers could use to explore the moon’s surface. This six-metre long, two-man vehicle would use the clean energy technology that’s already powering Toyota cars, trucks and buses here on earth and be able to cover a range of more than 10,000km.
This concept is being studied in a three-year joint research project between Toyota and JAXA, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, established in July 2019. The programme is due to begin development of test parts and a prototype rover this year, ahead of test and evaluation getting under way in 2021.
* SPARX Innovation for the Future Co Ltd is a subsidiary of the SPARX Group Co Ltd.