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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Aug 4, 2006 2:01:04 GMT -6
Japan aims for Moon base by 2030
Japan's space agency has set a goal of constructing a crewed lunar base by 2030, an official said on Wednesday.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) revealed its ambition to an international conference in Tokyo this week but has not yet been allotted the budget for the ambitious project.
JAXA hopes to launch a satellite into lunar orbit in 2007, followed by uncrewed spacecraft that will land on the Moon and collect lunar rock samples.
Under the plan, astronauts will be sent to the Moon around 2020 to start construction of the base that will be completed by 2030, the agency said. Japan had earlier given 2025 as the target date for a lunar base.
"The feasibility of the plan is unclear at this point as we need to gain understanding by the government and the Japanese people on our plan, but technologically it would be possible in a few decades," said Satoki Kurokawa, spokesman for JAXA.
"Exploring a frontier is always a mission of science. In addition, space programmes have the potential to create cutting-edge technologies, particularly in the field of robotics," he said.
Japan has launched a series of satellites successfully since its space programme suffered several embarrassing setbacks in 2003 with the loss of a Mars probe, an Earth observation satellite and the forced destruction of a rocket carrying a pair of spy satellites just 10 minutes after lift-off.