TOYOTA TO BUILD LUNAR ROVER AS JAPAN PLANS TO LAND ASTRONAUT ON MOON

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Toyota is collaborating with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on a planned mission to land an astronaut on the moon, with the auto giant expected to develop a lunar rover, officials said Wednesday.

It will be Toyota’s first full-fledged entry into space exploration, after the carmaker co-developed a small robot that was sent to the International Space Station in 2013. That robot, Kirobo, became the first robot to speak in outer space.

“We are planning to cooperate with Toyota in an exploration mission to the moon,” a spokesman with JAXA said, according to the Japan Times.

More details are expected to be announced by JAXA and Toyota on March 12 when the space agency hosts a symposium in Tokyo, the spokesman said.

Toyota is also set to announce a joint project “on mobility and a space probe,”  although the company declined to comment further.

The Jiji Press news agency reported that the “mobility method” which Toyota is working on could be used on the lunar surface, where JAXA aims to land an astronaut by 2030.

The announcement comes during a time of renewed global interest in missions to the moon.

In January, China’s Chang’e-4 probe successfully landed on the far side of the moon, and in February, SpaceX launched Israel’s Beresheet robotic lunar lander, which is expected to land on the moon on April 11.

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