Japan Shooting for Moon
Thursday, March 10, 2005 Posted: 07:38 AM JST
Japan is thinking about a manned lunar base by 2025 confirmed Masaki Shirakawa, an official with the Cabinet Office, and JAXA officials this week. A report is expected to be submitted to the government within 30 days. If this project is approved, it means a major change of direction for Japan's space program. Aside from its astronauts on NASA's space shuttle, Japan has always used unmanned probes.
Japan's entry would further heat up the space race in Asia. Both China and India have announced moon missions, and the has stated that the United States will return to the moon in the next decade. It wants to send astronauts to Mars, too.
According to an article in the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper earlier this week, JAXA hopes to develop a robot to conduct probes on the moon by 2010, then begin constructing a solar-powered manned research base on the moon and design a reusable manned space vessel like the U.S. space shuttle by 2025.
Japan's space ambitions have recently been overshadowed by China. The country put its first astronaut into orbit in October 2003. It now wants to put a man on the moon.
Against the backdrop fo China's recent successes, Japan's space program has been struggling for years. One month after China's first manned mission, Japanese controllers had to blow up a H-2A rocket shortly after liftoff. Launches were put on hold for 15 months. But last week Japan returned to space with the successful launch of an H-2A rocket that placed a communications and navigation satellite into orbit.
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