Friday, March 6, 2009

Japan Wants the Moon Also!

In a news article by Yoko Kubota (March 6, 2009. "Japan considers putting robot on moon"), Japan is now considering putting a robot on the moon by 2020 and a astronaut by 2030.  This amid concerns of being left behind in a supposed asian space race (China and India).

These plans come after China's first space walk and the launch of India's first unmanned moon mission in 2008.  China is planning on putting their astronauts on the moon someday although no schdule has yet been released.  

A official for the (Japan's) Strategic Headquarters for Space Policy (SHSP) said, "Some experts are concerned that unless there is an independent program, then Japan may be left behind in terms of space development."  

"If large scale space development projects, such as moon probes or space solar power system, are conducted, not only robots but also people will have to be there.  The technology of manned space programs will certainly become the foundation in such cases." that government offical said.

Japan's space flight history had setbacks in the 1990s and only recently since 2007 with their lunar explorer.  Six astronauts have been sent into space with the United States or Russia.

There are also concerns with North Korea's nuclear and missile capabilites.  That lead to recent changes to (Japan's) decades old pacifist policy with the passage of a law allowing the military use of outer space for Japan's Defense Forces.  

JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) has a annual budget of 228 billion yen ($2.3 billion).  This is just a small percentage of Nasa's $17 billion annual spending.   

Ref. Reuters ( )

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