A manned, pressurized lunar rover planned by Toyota Motor Corp. and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will have a range of more than 10,000 kilometers. (Provided by Toyota Motor Corp.)

Toyota Motor Corp. and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency have joined hands to develop the first lunar vehicle that astronauts can use without wearing spacesuits.

JAXA and Toyota said March 12 that they plan to send the pressurized, fuel cell-powered vehicle to the moon in 2029 and hope that a Japanese astronaut will use it to lead a lunar mission.

The envisaged rover will be 6 meters long, 5.2 meters wide and 3.8 meters tall, or the equivalent of two microbuses. It will have 13 cubic meters of living space and can accommodate two to four people.

Toyota said its automated driving technologies and fuel-cell know-how should enable the rover to travel more than 10,000 kilometers on the moon’s rough surface. The use of fuel cells will make it easier to store and transport energy sources in space.

JAXA will cooperate with Toyota on technologies to purify water and air in the vehicle.

The rover is expected to be used after a lunar-orbit space station, known as the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, is created in 2026. The Gateway is an international project under consideration by Japan, the United States, EU countries, Russia and other nations.

Under the plan, the rover, deployed from the Gateway, will travel on the moon’s surface close to the south pole for five explorations between 2029 and 2034. Each exploration will take about 42 days and cover a distance of about 2,000 km.

A day on the moon lasts for two weeks, followed by two weeks of night.

The rover will examine the lunar surface during the daytime and return to a space craft at night for fuel supplies, Toyota and JAXA said. After the crew exits the rover, it will autonomously cruise to the next exploration point and wait for the arrival of a new crew.

Traveling on the crater-filled lunar surface poses a slew of challenges.

NASA deployed moon buggies during the Apollo missions in the 1960s and 1970s. But the astronauts had to wear spacesuits to use uncovered vehicles.