Japan aims for manned moon station in 2030
Japan’s space agency has set a goal of constructing a manned lunar base in 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 alotted the budget for the ambitious project.
Jaxa hopes to launch a satellite into lunar orbit next year, followed by an unmanned spacecraft that will land on the moon and a probe ship that will collect samples from the moon.
Under the plan, the astronauts will be sent to the moon by around 2020 so that they will start construction of the base to 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, spokesperson 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, explaining benefits of the programme.
Japan’s space programme has been on a rebound with a series of satellite launches after an embarrassment in 2003, when it had to abort a rocket carrying a spy satellite just 10 minutes after lift-off.
The United States is planning to put a person on the moon by 2015, the first since another American, Eugene Cernan, on December 11 1972.
US President George Bush has set the goal of a manned mission to Mars by 2020.
The European Space Agency plans a human flight to the moon in 2020 and China and India are preparing unmanned missions in the next two years. - AFP