Hidden Nook

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Friday, April 29, 2005

Can Japan Afford The Space Race?

[Media Source*]

(Cross Posted on Blogger News)

"If the present rates of decline continue, the space program will collapse," said Keiji Tachikawa, a former private sector executive who assumed leadership of the space agency, known as JAXA, four months ago. "We are almost in a crisis situation."

Ironically this comes after Japan announced to the world that they not only plan on sending astronauts into space, but also establishing a base on the moon. Tachikawa does not think that the government will allow it's space program to collapse, but with a budget of only 200 billion yen (US$2 billion or 2.6 billion Euro) the land of the rising sun will have to get serious if it plans on establishing a lunar base in 15 years, especially if they desire a prime spot for a colony.

The agency sent the plan to a government space panel for review, asking for a budget increase to roughly US$2.6 billion (euro2 billion) a year, up from US$2 billion (euro1.6 billion) last year. Tachikawa acknowledged that funds were hard to come by with Japan's economy still trying to rebound from more than a decade of stagnation.

Despite their economic situation (as well as the looming threat of North Korea) it would be a shame if a country known for being technologically savvy was unable to send a man into space, let alone establish a lunar beachhead. Although Japan was stimulated towards action by China launching a man into space, what Japan needs to do is examine a way to inspire the public (who could in turn influence their government) the potential benefits of launching an aggressive space program as well as the financial rewards of doing so.

If Japan fails to do this, they may find themselves (along with NASA and other government space agencies) out done by the American private sector and possibly used only for "militarily purposes." Tachikawa may be able to turn things around, and potentially change the current Japanese program into a successful one.

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By Darnell Clayton • 1:42 AM • Email Post • •


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