Generating fuel on the Moon is a lot cheaper than bringing your own.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has revealed plans to extract hydrogen from the Moon’s ice deposits to use as a fuel source, the major Tokyo-based newspaper Japan Times reports.
The goal is to cut costs during the nation’s planned lunar explorations in the mid-2030s by creating a fuel source locally rather than lugging copious amounts of fuel all the way from Earth.
As a preliminary step, the space agency plans to collaborate with NASA to build the Lunar Gateway, a smaller space station orbiting the Moon intended to serve a stepping stone to the lunar surface below.
The generated fuel would provide enough power to gently carry four astronauts to and from the Gateway. It could also be used to power a transport vehicle on the surface that can travel up to 1,000 kilometers by hopping across the surface, according to the Japan Times.
JAXA estimates that it will take about 37 tons of water to provide enough power to and from the Lunar Gateway. It will take a further 21 tons to explore the surface.
JAXA also revealed designs for a six-wheeled, self-driving vehicle last year, a collaboration with automotive giant Toyota that’s propelled by hydrogen fuel cells.
READ MORE: One small hop for man? Japan shoots for jumping craft fueled by moon water [The Japan Times]
More on the Gateway: Here’s NASA’s Plan for a Lunar “Base Camp”