The plan drawn up by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) calls for a plant to be located on the moon’s south pole, where specialists believe there are large deposits of ice. The water from them would serve as a source for oxygen and hydrogen.
The specialists believe it would be cheaper to produce hydrogen on the moon than to deliver it from Earth. For one mission, 60 tonnes of water would be required — including the flight to the moon from the space station, the descent to the moon’s surface and the return to orbit. Construction of the plant would require five to seven missions to be completed.
The hydrogen would serve as fuel for the lunar vehicle within JAXA’s joint project with Toyota and for the spaceship to take the astronauts from orbit to the moon’s surface and back again.
JAXA and Toyota in August announced the creation of a crewed “Lunar Cruiser”, powered by fuel cell technology. From two to four astronauts could operate inside the rover without spacesuits. The plan calls for the vehicle to “hop” across the lunar service, owing to low gravity.
Japan last year, Japan announced it would join NASA’s lunar programme.