The carmaker announced Tuesday that it is teaming up with Japan’s national space agency to develop and build a moon rover that future astronauts will use to explore the lunar surface.
Unlike the trio of bare-bones NASA rovers that Apollo astronauts steered across the lunar surface in the 1970s, the proposed rover will have an enclosed, pressurized cabin.
Those electric vehicles were designed only for short trips; Apollo 17 astronauts Gene Cernan and Jack Schmidt set the distance record, driving their rover a total of 22.3 miles on three separate outings in December 1972.
“The Apollo astronauts had to return back to their lander each night, so they could only drive a certain distance before having to turn back around,” Brent Garry, a geologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, told NBC News MACH in an email.
In 2009, Garry spent 14 days living in a prototype lunar rover as part of a NASA experiment known as Desert RATS.