Monday, January 15, 2007

Is Japan Giving Up On The Moon? Authentic NASA Toys and Replicas
Japan Space Agency, JAXA, Image Credit: MSNBC
Despite being known as a tech savy nation, it looks as if the land of the rising sun is giving up on visiting the lunar surface in person.

(MSNBC) Japan's space agency has recommended scrapping its first moon mission after more than a decade of delays, a spokeswoman said Monday, in the latest blow to the country's beleaguered space program.

The Lunar-A probe was envisioned as planting two seismic sensors on the lunar surface to gather information about the moon's core and learn more about the origins of the Earth's only natural satellite.

But development of the so-called penetrator probes has taken so long that the mission's mother ship, which was built 10 years ago, has fallen into disrepair and would require too much money to fix, said Satoko Kanazawa, a spokeswoman for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA.

Although the Japanese are still planning on launching satellites to observe the moon from afar, this lacks the same intimacy of sending a robot or human upon the surface. While Japan hesitates to actually visit the cosmos, China is taking ownership of it, with plans to even build a space station next year.

If Japan does not figure out a way to reignite their passion for exploring the universe, they may have to accept playing second fiddle to their Chinese neighbors.

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You can either visit the stars or watch them from afar.

But if you choose the former, you'll definitely get a better view.

~Darnell Clayton, 2007

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