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Japan Plans a Moonbase by 2030 331

Posted by timothy
from the then-acknowlege-name-change-to-ix dept.
Aglassis writes "The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced at a conference that they are planning to build a Moonbase by 2030. Since JAXA doesn't currently have a 100 ton-class heavy lift rocket or a human transportation system perhaps now is a good time for JAXA to join in with NASA on the Project Constellation rocket program."
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Japan Plans a Moonbase by 2030

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  • by neonprimetime (528653) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @10:40AM (#15840064) Homepage
    Under the plan, astronauts will be sent to the Moon around 2020 to start construction of the base that will be completed by 2030

    This reminds me of the timeframes set out by the state construction workers on our highways.
    • by krell (896769) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @10:55AM (#15840186) Journal
      "This reminds me of the timeframes set out by the state construction workers on our highways."

      However, due to stark environmental realities, the sympathy strike by the oxygen-delivery union will have fatal consequences on the moon construction workers' picket line.
    • by hcob$ (766699) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @10:58AM (#15840219)
      Under the plan, astronauts will be sent to the Moon around 2020 to start construction of the base that will be completed by 2030

      This reminds me of the timeframes set out by the state construction workers on our highways.
      Actually, those are very accurate timelines that are presented for highway projects. Believe it or not, Civil Engineers actually have to plan that far out.
    • If you read the next line:
      Japan had earlier given 2025 as the target date for a lunar base.
      I predict a schedule over-run of 10 years and a cost over-run of at least two times what was budgeted.
  • Relability (Score:3, Funny)

    by QuantumFTL (197300) * <justin@wick.gmail@com> on Thursday August 03, 2006 @10:40AM (#15840073)
    Considering all the reliability concerns of running an extraterrestrial habitat in vacuum, I'm glad they are using JAXA technology rather than AJAX!
  • by Rotten168 (104565) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @10:40AM (#15840074) Homepage
    that the US faked the moon landings! :)
  • In any case, 24 years seems quite a lot to me, considering that all the technology needed to accomplish this is available.
    • by QuantumFTL (197300) * <justin@wick.gmail@com> on Thursday August 03, 2006 @10:47AM (#15840122)
      First of all, this is Japan not San Francisco, so I doubt they are sending any "sailors" there.

      Secondly, it's possible to create a moon base now, but it's probably not yet cost effective... JAXA doesn't have an unlimited budget, and AFAIK we don't have a definitive solution for the problem of microscopic lunar dust [washingtonpost.com].
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I hope they televise the progress.

      In any case, 24 years seems quite a lot to me, considering that all the technology needed to accomplish this is available.

      This is because Jack Bauer is involved in the project.

      The following takes place between 2012 and 2013.
    • by purfledspruce (821548) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @11:13AM (#15840342)
      Umm....no? I'm not a "rocket scientist," but I am an engineer who specializes in technology development at NASA...and, in fact, we don't have a lot of the technologies that we used to have.

      Here's a "for instance" -- you need a deeply throtleable rocket engine to safely land a vehicle on the Moon. We had one on the LEM in Apollo, but it hasn't been built in 35 years. There are no CAD models of such an engine; the plans have been lost; the manufacturing isn't around; the rocket will be made with different materials, and will need a complete redesign anyway.

      Another "for instance" -- space suits have been made for in-space only use. We need to develop a space suit that can walk on the Moon again. There are no plans, the materials are all different, and the suit will need to be designed and tested. As noted by a later post, this is a particularly difficult technology, as it has to deal with lunar dust--basically microscopic shards of volcanic glass that have never had their edges dulled by contact with air. Some of the Apollo astronauts were barely able to move their suits by the end of a 3 day long stay on the surface of the Moon--how would a lunar astronaut survive a six-month stay?

      Another "for instance" -- no Saturn 5? how are we supposed to launch something into lunar transit?

      Another "for instance" -- the Earth reentry vehicle will be travelling at 10-12 km/s. That's kilometers per second! Even if we had the drawings, the materials used in Apollo's heat shield have been deemed unsafe for the environment. We've got to find and test a replacement.

      And those are the critical technologies from off the top of my head, not counting the technologies needed for a human habitat for use on the Moon...which would likely require a nuclear fission power plant to make it through the 14 day lunar night. Besides the technical problems of designing and building a fission power system to operate in 1/6g, can you imagine what would happen if NASA tried to launch a nuclear fission power plant? Cassini had large protests, and it had only radioisotope power, a nuclear power system that has survived a launch failure!

      Bottom line is that we do not have the technologies needed for a lunar base, and it will cost a LOT of money and take quite a lot of time to develop them.

      • With all of the advancements in CG, I expect it will be far easier and cheaper to "land on the moon".
      • by pashdown (124942) <pashdown@xmission.com> on Thursday August 03, 2006 @11:33AM (#15840506) Homepage
        1962 - "We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard."

        2006 - "Its too hard and too expensive."
      • >if NASA tried to launch a nuclear fission power plant?

        They did: the Apollo program used reactors for power. SNAP reactors. Basically a subcritical but warm fissionable near a thermocouple.
        I can recall the pictures of a astronaut putting the 2nd part of the fissionable into the LEM power plant. I wonder if those generators are still pumping out power.
      • by LWATCDR (28044) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @11:55AM (#15840692) Homepage Journal
        One we do have the technology to go to the moon. We do not have the actual hardware.
        1. No Saturn V. Correct but we do have engines that are in the same thrust class as the F-1. I also would bet good money that we could convert the drawings to CAD of the F-1 if we haven't already. The new crew launch vehicle is using an improved J-2. Guess when those where used last? Boeing was looking at using the F-1 in a fly-back booster for the the Shuttle years ago so I would guess that they have plans for that some where in CAD. For the rest of the structure a new design would be better and lighter anyway. The Shuttle ET is every bit as technically challenging as the Saturn V first stage so a new Saturn V or replacement would not be a problem.
        2. Space suits? NASA has been doing research on those for years. There are many new space suit designs for Mars missions that would work just as well on the Moon.
        3. Heat shield. Again not a problem what about the one from Stardust? That probe had a reentry speed higher than a lunar return mission would. It did just fine. The material and aerodynamics are known and proven.
        4. The deeply throttleable rocket motors. This would have to a new design but again how to do it is known. This will just be a new motor using proven technology.
        5. A lunar reactor. The USSR and the US have both flown reactors in orbit. If they can work in zero G and in one G then 1/6 G shouldn't be an issue. The politics of launching a reactor are just that Politics. A good solution for the protests would be to launch the reactor cold and use Sea Launch for the launch vehicle.

        What is left is only the will to do it.
        • by purfledspruce (821548) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @12:30PM (#15841006)
          Many of the comments above point out an "attitude" of NASA people. This may in fact be true; however, I believe that my "attitude" is one of understanding the difficulties involved. Perhpas I came across too negatively, though: I believe that we can and will go to the Moon...it's just a problem of expense driving us to a long period of time to design and build the spacecraft and develop the technologies needed.

          It's important to understand the challenge that NASA is up against: During Apollo, NASA had approximately 2.5% of the national budget. Today, NASA has less than 1%, and they've been asked to do the same job while having to cover the expense of the International Space Station ($4B per year) and the Shuttle (~$2B per year, perhaps more--it depends on whose numbers you believe). That leaves (very approximately) 1/5 the spending power as what was available in Apollo.

          I chose to respond to this particular response because I thought it was the most interesting and thoughtful. Here are some more things to think about:

          1) You're absolutely correct, and that's why NASA is using as much existing hardware as possible. However, I was in the Air and Space museum the other day and saw folks with NASA badges physically measuring the old Apollo equipment with a 12" ruler. Kind of frightening. 2) Not true. You're forgetting that Mars has an atmosphere and the Moon does not. The Moon's surface is pummeled by asteroids; this liquefies the surface (or so the theory goes) and turns it into something like volcanic glass. The next time that an asteroid strikes the surface, this glass shatters, and the microparticles are very small. They are also very sharp, with edges so sharp that air molecules would break them--but there's no air. So those jagged little crystals get into and on everything. Mars dust isn't nearly as bad, as evidenced by the rovers. There are some excellent resources on the web about the problems of lunar dust. Here's one for your enjoyment. [wired.com]

          3) Heat shields are extremely tricky. The center of gravity and the shape of the heatshield determine how large the heatshield can be built. These are lift-producing shapes, so that the capsule can steer a bit while its coming down. No capsule has ever been as large as 5m (Apollo's was 3.9m) and the materials simply don't exist. There are several good candidates, but the best one (far outperforming the others) is made by a small company of ~8 people. Unless that company licenses the material, NASA will never go with it--it would be a real problem if the supplier went out of business. Bottom line is that we can't use the one from Stardust. Not only is it the wrong shape and size, but even if it were, it's not human-rated.

          4) I completely agree with you: rocket engine throttling is well known, it's just that a capable has to be developed. That's expensive, and takes time, and NASA has approximately 1/5 the spending power that it did in the Apollo program.

          5) I believe that if you check the record, no nuclear *reactor* has ever flown in space. There have been numerous nuclear power generators, such as the ones on Apollo, but they have all been sub-critical. The SP-100 project for having a nuclear reactor in space was cancelled by Clinton in the early 90s, right before they were to build a prototype. Almost all of the development knowledge has been lost from that, unfortunately. Cancelling a project of any sort tends to mean you have to start over (facilities are converted, drawings are lost, people with knowledge and experience go to other fields) but it's very true of technology development. If you stand down a tech development, it's very difficult to start it up again.

          That said, I am not a nuke (what nuclear engineers are fond of calling themselves), but I know one, and she tells me that 1/6g is actually the worst case. It's more difficult to get the coolant to flow properly or something, I'm not a nuke. :) Again, let me stress that I b

          • Okay let me first say that NASA needs a bigger budget. THAT IS A GIVEN.
            I was questioning the use of the term technology. I do not believe much new technology needs to be developed. Just that we need to build the bloody stuff.

            I wasn't suggesting that they use the actual heat shield from Stardust. Just that expertise to build it exists. I should also state that I also understand that creating a heat shield like that is a complex task involving hypersonic aerodynamics, thermal dynamics, and a big heaping scoop
      • Umm....no? I'm not a "rocket scientist," but I am an engineer who specializes in technology development at NASA...and, in fact, we don't have a lot of the technologies that we used to have. .....
        Bottom line is that we do not have the technologies needed for a lunar base, and it will cost a LOT of money and take quite a lot of time to develop them.

        Not to sound like a troll, but if this is the attitude at NASA, I'll be surprised if you manage to launch the next space shuttle. If you said something like that i

      • There are no CAD models of such an engine; the plans have been lost...

        The plans are probably in the same place as the missing Moon landing video tapes. Have you checked with the cleaning staff?

      • Lost Plans? (Score:3, Informative)

        by mangu (126918)
        I'm not a "rocket scientist,"

        You need not mention that, the contents of your post clearly demonstrate that fact.

        the plans have been lost; the manufacturing isn't around; ... There are no plans, the materials are all different, ... Even if we had the drawings, ...

        What are you talking about? The Lost Cities of Gold [wikipedia.org]? The plans are kept in several places, you have no idea how many copies of the documentation those aerospace companies keep. But, assume for a moment that the plans didn't exist. It took about t

    • One of the articles linked in the submission states the plan is to have Japanese astronauts landing on the moon by 2020, begin construction by 2025, and be permanently manned by 2030. Given that NASA's goal is to return to the moon by 2018, and that Japan's space agency is much smaller and younger than ours with no direct experience in manned exploration and no heavy-lift infrastructure, this really sounds extremely ambitious.

      Yes, the bits and pieces of the technology exist, but the systems do not. We've
  • "Plans" (Score:3, Funny)

    by weasello (881450) <weasel.greensheep@ca> on Thursday August 03, 2006 @10:41AM (#15840079) Homepage
    That's funny, I *also* have plans to build a base on the moon! I wonder how likely it is to go through?

    I really hope it does happen. Before I die I have to go to the moon. I hope we start building condos out there in 50 years or so.
  • Moonbase Alpha was was scheduled for 1999, but EPA studies, the union strikes, and other construction delays caused the new completion date to be 2030.

    When will the moon be torn out of orbit?
  • Give me a break (Score:5, Informative)

    by Reality Master 101 (179095) <RealityMaster101@nOSPAm.gmail.com> on Thursday August 03, 2006 @10:41AM (#15840086) Homepage Journal

    "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.

    Translation: We don't know if it's feasible, we don't know if the government will pay for it, we don't know if the people are for it, but we think it's possible. What a pile-o-poo-poo.

    These guys sound like NASA.

    Wake me up when Japanese industrialists figure out something they can do on the moon and want to send robots there or something.

    • By the way, when Kennedy said "We are going to be on the moon before the end of this decade.", nobody took him seriously. But we did (or at least, we were told we did :p)

      The Japanese are maybe giving themselves a deadline just like JFK did.

      Wake me up when Japanese industrialists figure out something they can do on the moon and want to send robots there or something.
      Considering it's the Japanese, they'll probably be giant fighting robots fighting together.
    • by garyrich (30652)
      "Wake me up when Japanese industrialists figure out something they can do on the moon and want to send robots there or something."

      http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/helium3_0006 30.html [space.com]

      Not totally practical, but it's there if you want a blue sky reason to invest the capital. Most of the early work would be an excuse to get the japanese government to fund some R&D, later investment can be scaled depending on developments on h3 reactors and other practical returns. With its energy needs and aging popu
  • Is it Jacks-a or Ja-za? I'm sure in Japanese it's different, but how are English-speakers supposed to say it?
    • Seeing as how the name of the agency is in English (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) I'd think they pronounce it as close to the way we would as they can. That'd be something like Jahk-shuh, as we'd say jacks-uh.
    • Good Question: JAXA appears to be an English Acronym (for Japan Aviation eXploration Agency. I doubt that Japanese attempt to pronounce it as Japanese doesn't have an X character. I'd guess they might do something like ja-ka-tsu-a if they really have to pronounce it.

      There's probably a Japanese name for the Agency as well, but Verizon has our DSL running at sub dial up speed today, and I don't have the patience to dig the Japanese name out.

      Anyway, I reckon you can pronounce JAXA any way you want to.

  • Whew,

    thought we had a new acronym:; Java And XML Asynchronously.

    Actually, kind of like that more than AJAX....
  • by Tackhead (54550) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @10:43AM (#15840098)
    When our parents saw the first Americans land on the moon, they had no idea they'd also seen the last.

    You go, Japan. Someone's gotta do it, and ever since we rejected science for religion, all your base are no longer belong to US.

    • by Rotten168 (104565) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @10:54AM (#15840181) Homepage
      For one thing, the first moon landings weren't the last. Second, the benefits of a moonbase are a tad dubious. Third, the Japanese are merely drawing up plans to build a moonbase. I seem to recall Bush being ridiculed for calling for a trip to Mars a while back... so don't blame this on the ignorant Bible Belters (as per usual).
    • by mrxak (727974) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @10:55AM (#15840190)
      Ah good, the ol' War on Science myth. Just because a handful of prominent individuals don't seem to understand science doesn't mean that the country has rejected it. The reason we've been so slow at getting back to the Moon was because people stopped watching the Apollo landings and there were other more pressing concerns in the Cold War. Throw in a little Space Shuttle and ISS, and you have yourself bogged down in Earth orbit for a while. We've made tremendous advancements in the science of space since the moon landings- take a look at Hubble, the Mars robots, and lot of probes sent far out into the solar system. Sure, humans haven't been getting out there, but we'll get back to the Moon, and beyond, now that the shuttle fleet is getting close to retirement.
    • Umm... Japan can't have the moon. Didn't you see the news? There's a US flag on it and we own it fair and square... or spherical. Now, we only have to defend it [boardgamegeek.com]!!

      Love that game.

    • Um, this is the same Japanese space agency that has yet to successfully launch a single private satellite.....Call my cynical but I don't have much faith in them succeeding.
  • Hey, Japan! 2020 called. They want their moon base back!

    As if! As if there's going to be any room left for Japanese Moonbase in 2030. It's gonna be all Starbucks as far as the eye can see. Mare Nostrum will be filled with Americano. Somebody sent us up the chai latte. What you say? Four moonbucks for a cup of Joe? Soylent Latte is People! Well. Person. Named Joe. Damn you john Katz.

    Hey, we got dibs on Mars, too, MFers!

    -----------
    Holy Crap! I had this weird dream that I was a blogger, and went I woke up my K
  • Finally (Score:2, Funny)

    by Centurix (249778)
    Moon Unit Zappa.
  • US moon base (Score:2, Interesting)

    by the_crowing (992960)
    Didn't Bush reinstate plans to start putting Americans back on the moon shortly after he was elected? If so, maybe there will be a race to see who can build the first moon base just as there was with putting the first man on the moon.
    • Re:US moon base (Score:3, Informative)

      by DerekLyons (302214)

      Didn't Bush reinstate plans to start putting Americans back on the moon shortly after he was elected? If so, maybe there will be a race to see who can build the first moon base just as there was with putting the first man on the moon.

      The chances of a race are essentially nil - niether country really has anything to prove by doing so. There is also one huge difference between the two announcements - America's is sponsored by the Head of State, where Japan's is merely hopeful thinking by the head of their

  • Late in June, speaking at the Farnborough aerospace show, the Roskosmos leadership suddenly announced that they were suspending the tender and would instead adopt a multi-stage program of creating a space transport vehicle [the kliper]. Now the main emphasis is on the time-tested orbital workhorse, the Soyuz spacecraft.

    From here [en.rian.ru].

    It seems that the Russians are having a few problems with their new space program. *shock*

  • by YA_Python_dev (885173) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @11:06AM (#15840266) Journal
    Since JAXA doesn't currently have a 100 ton-class heavy lift rocket or a human transportation system perhaps now is a good time for JAXA to join in with NASA on the Project Constellation rocket program.

    You don't need a 100 ton rocket to go to the moon and NASA has already stated that the Constellation is an US-only project. What Japan will probably do is joining Europe and Russia on the ACTS (Advanced Crew Transportation System) [wikipedia.org], that will be launched using existing Ariane 5 or similar rockets (20-25 ton to LEO, depending on the orbit inclination).

  • ... don't ... no! ... must not ... arghhhh ... can't reezzziiissstttt... All Your... URRRRRRR... All Your Moo... UNNNGGHH... All Your Moon Baaasse... SLAAAAP!!! SLAAAPP!! SLAAAPP!! Unnn! ........... I won't... I won't Mistress O, I won't do it again! I'll resist! I'll resist! Please don'... nnnoooo!!! CRACKKKK! CRACCCCKKKK! CRAAACCCKKKKKKKKK!

    Unnngggggghhhhh....

    Oh... oh... thank you. Thank you....

    11,453 yen was it?
  • Let me assume that they will also run 5th generation computers. [wikipedia.org]

    They wasted millions on it in the eighties.
  • I bet that 4 acre lot of the moon I bought off the internet for $50,000 is EXACTLY where the Japs are going to build their base... Not sure how I'll evict them....
  • I don't want to read any more stories about anything more then 2 years out.
  • JAXA? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gumpish (682245) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @11:34AM (#15840515) Journal
    The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
    Uhm... doesn't Exploration start with the letter "E"?
  • The Earth will be underwater by 2030, so it looks like pretty good timing from the Japanese. I guess the few Japanese people inhabiting the Moon will be the only humans left.
  • Wow! It looks like it will be crowded on the moon with all of these bases:Japan [space.com], Russia [space.com], China [astronautix.com]. But lets face it folks. The only credible plans [space.com] for lunar exploration are coming out of the USA. The rest are just angling to hitch a ride.

  • perhaps now is a good time for JAXA to join in with NASA on the Project Constellation rocket program.

    No, no, please no, a thousand times no.

    If there's one thing we should have learned about launch vehicle engineering by now, it's that we do *not* want to decide based on viewgraphs and guesswork that we have now developed the One True Rocket Design which will make all other rockets unnecessary. That way leads to Space Shuttles, to NASP, to X-33, and so far I see no reason to doubt that Project Save-Our-Jobs
  • This is a planning exercise, not a poliical commitment by thee Japanese government. Like NASA, JAXA's files are undoubtedly packed with plans for space missions that no one ever intended to come to fruition.

    The government has not budgeted for this, and almost certainly will not.

  • A Cambridge student working on methods to extract oxygen and metals from lunar soil was recently awarded the first prize [ibnlive.com] in a contest co-organized by the Heinlein trust and Russian aviation/education complex. Maybe his work (and/or derivatives) would have an impact on this promising moonbase?
  • Why does this Japanese group have an English acronym?

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