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Japan seeks to put a robot and man on the moon

JAPAN is considering putting a robot on the moon by 2020 and an astronaut by 2030, according to a report from a government office yesterday.

The plans follow China's first space walk and India's launch of their first unmanned moon mission last year.

The robot and the astronaut would probe the moon to see how its resources could be used, according to the report.

A space development panel yesterday also discussed the possibility of Japan eventually starting its own manned space program, a government official said.

"Some experts are concerned that unless there is an independent program, then Japan may be left behind in terms of space development," said an official from the Strategic Headquarters for Space Policy.

"If large-scale space development projects, such as moon probes or space solar power system, are conducted, not only robots but also people will have to be there," he said.

"The technology of manned space programs will certainly become the foundation in such cases."

Japan's space program was in tatters in the early 2000s after failed rocket launches, but it successfully launched its first lunar explorer in 2007.

Japan has sent six astronauts to space, all through international missions.


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