Japan has an ambitious plan to send men to the moon by 2030 as part of a multinational mission and is determined they'll have a ride when they get there. Japan's space agency JAXA and partner Toyota have revealed that the pressurized, manned lunar rover -- announced earlier this year -- should be ready to launch by 2029.
The six-wheeled vehicle will carry two people up to 6,200 miles using solar power and fuel cell technology. At 20 feet long, 17 feet wide and 12 feet tall, it'll have 140 square feet of habitable space. Thanks to the pressurization, astronauts won't need spacesuits while inside.
The timeline is pretty busy, and considering the challenges of developing tech for human space exploration, Toyota and JAXA will do well to meet their deadlines. The official plan runs for three years, up to 2022, with a tentative plan for a push toward launch between 2022 and 2029.
At that point, the rover will be ready for a scheduled 2030 launch. In theory, it will arrive on the moon ahead of the human explorers and drive autonomously to meet them. JAXA wants to use it to help astronauts explore the lunar poles in search of frozen water, while at the same time developing tech that could be used on other planets. If the ambitious project works out, it'll give astronauts a cozy escape from the lunar desert's magnificent desolation.