NASA plans to use a pressurized rover as a habitat for humans who embark on their next manned mission to the moon, possibly in 2024. The idea was revealed by an engineer from the American agency, during a videoconference on the 10th.
“It’s like a trailer for the Moon,” said NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems Director Mark Kirasich. According to him, the vehicle will be developed in partnership with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), which in turn already has a project in progress with Toyota.
The Japanese “lunar motorhome” is the alternative found by the American space agency to deal with the funding cuts it has faced in recent months. By choosing it, the institution would not need to build a habitable module from scratch, achieving great savings.
According to ArsTechnica, the lunar rover should be sent to the natural satellite a few months after the mission, arriving there by means of a cargo delivery service carried out by private companies, to serve as shelter and transport. Before that, NASA must use simpler vehicles, similar to models from the last three Apollo missions.
Concept has already been presented
The vehicle that the American agency plans to use to house the next humans to step on the lunar surface has already had its prototype presented by JAXA and Toyota in 2019.
In the initial version, the rover is 6m long, 5m wide and 3.8m high, with a living area of approximately 13m². Capacity is for two people only. But in an emergency, it can hold up to four crew members.
Using fuel cell electric car technologies, the six-wheeled vehicle would be able to travel more than 10,000 kilometers on the lunar soil.