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Japan's 20-Year Plan for Space

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the build-up dept.

Space 263

rwven writes "Japan has just released information on their new space plan which will take them through the year 2025. Included in their plan are robots and nanotechnology for moon surveys as well as an eventual hydrogen powered mach-5 capable plane, a mach-2 capable passenger airliner and a manned mission to the moon. They will consider missions to mars and other planets after 2025. Space.com is also carrying this story."

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donkey nigger (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12157899)

gook balls

Wow. (0)

schild (713993) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157907)

I've had flying cars in my 20 year plan for about 50 years. I think TIME Magazine and National Geographic have as well. So, we'll see this Japanese stuff in 2057 is what they're saying, right?

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12157967)

Go Mars!

WooooooooooooooTEH!

GO MARS!

Dreaming and hoping != plan (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158009)

Hoping for a flying car in 20 years is not a plan. As any half-arsed manager will tell you a plan is more than that.

I think there is a fundamental difference in thinking between corporate USA and much of the rest of the world. US corporations are increasingly quarterly driven and "long term" is starting to mean thinking two or three quarters out. I have not RTFA, but I expect the Japanese actually have a planned program.

if you want to make Eris laugh, make plans (0, Offtopic)

alarch (830794) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158026)

if you want to make Eris laugh, make plans

Re:Wow. (2, Insightful)

northcat (827059) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158047)

Flying cars are science fiction (at least economically and resourcefully *viable* flying cars are). What Japan is trying to do is reality. And you have a serious problem of not being able to differentiate between science fiction and reality.

Oblig. Simpons' Ref. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12158108)

A Japanese on the Moon in 2057!
Hey, we're realalistic.

Re:Wow. (1)

Kraemahz (847827) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158129)

Well, according to them [moller.com] you won't have to wait more than 2 more years for your flying car.

Re:Wow. (4, Insightful)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158184)

"I've had flying cars in my 20 year plan for about 50 years. I think TIME Magazine and National Geographic have as well. So, we'll see this Japanese stuff in 2057 is what they're saying, right?"

Uh. Heh. The problem with flying cars isn't so much the technology, it's the pilots. Higher class people can afford their own planes, but they're not exactly selling like hotcakes. Why? Because it takes a lot of hours to get your pilot's license. In order to make flying cars practical for mass-audiences (like they promise in PopSci), cars have to basically fly on their own. That sort of automation isn't all that practical today. GPS is helping, though...

fp? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12157908)

yay my first fp!

your first fp? WRONG! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12157933)

your first FAILURE!

w00t (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12157911)

first comment?

YOU FAIL IT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12157988)

what is it about you and failure?

Uh-oh... (-1, Troll)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157916)

"They will consider missions to mars and other planets after 2025"

Gee, but everybody on Slashdot already knows that manned space exploration just isn't worth it! Everything we could possibly want to do in space can be done by robots!

And why is the Japanese government getting involved? Every red-blooded libertarian knows that space exploration is something best conducted by private enterprise!

Re:Uh-oh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12157946)

And why is the Japanese government getting involved?

Boondoggles. The Japanese government is corrupt and is known for spending money on construction projects that have little public support.

Re:Uh-oh... (4, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158001)

Honestly, while they wouldn't say it publicly, they're getting involved because of China. China has been very successful with their space program as of late, and as a strategic foe of Japan, and with some high-profile failures recently, Japan has to play catch up. Not that it's a bad thing, mind you - I'd love to see both of them dump all of their money into spaceflight and related research that they can, so that everyone else will reap the benefits. Research is expensive. Hardware is expensive. Testing new designs out is very expensive. Let the Chinese and Japanese pay for all that they can ;)

Re:Uh-oh... (1)

CSMastermind (847625) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158189)

Wow, you hit the nail on the head. But your point about letting them do the reascearch is a good but misleading one. While it's good to let them pour resources into development, that might lead to them surpassing us in the feild of space exploration and in turn could lead to us playing catch up. While we'd be able to benifite from the technology they develop, you have to remember that infastructor is very time consuming to get into place, so we'd better not sit back too far or we may find ourselves left in the dust.

Re:Uh-oh... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12158372)

Uh, not to be a Language nazi, but have you ever tried to run your posts through a spelling and grammar checker first?

Re:Uh-oh... (0, Flamebait)

northcat (827059) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158127)

Um, sorry, I'm not really bright today, you're being sarcastic right?

Re:Uh-oh... (1)

CSMastermind (847625) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158134)

Orginally posted by Guppy06:
"Gee, but everybody on Slashdot already knows that manned space exploration just isn't worth it! Everything we could possibly want to do in space can be done by robots!"

Was that sarcasm? I hope so. There are very good things that could eventually come from manned exploration of space. It could lead to the eventual colonization of space which could be an escape from the whole hell's kitten affect. Not to mention that there are things the humans might be able to adapt if something goes wrong that robots can't. It's still risky and dangerous now but that's why it needs developed. Trust me, once China reachs the moon and starts putting coloneys up there the US will suddenly have an interst.

What about colonization? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12158292)

How the heck do you get there if you aren't willing to leave the planet? I mean a robot can only do so much preparation...

Re:Uh-oh... (1)

incubusnb (621572) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158409)

Gee, but everybody on Slashdot already knows that manned space exploration just isn't worth it!

a robot can only do so much in space, its decision making capabilities are limited by what is programmed into it, a human being is flexible enough to change the plan if the need arises. robots in space can only show us so much, i'm all for manned space exploration, 100% behind it.
besides, maybe this is the swift kick in the ass that the U.S. needs in order to get their space program moving at a faster pace.

In summary... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12157925)

...their plan is to buy all the real-estate on the moon.

Good for them! (4, Funny)

Rei (128717) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157928)

The more competition in the arena of space, the more designs get tested out, and the quicker we find what reduces the cost of spaceflight and what makes it more expensive. The only downside is that we'll have to deal with the oversized Hello Kitty decals flying overhead :P

Re:Good for them! (1)

glarvat (753298) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158080)

I think a space arena is a great idea. Who wouldn't want to go to the JAXA space arena for Super Bowl CXI??

Lowered cost? (4, Interesting)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158096)

You make the assumption that space flight is going to be cost driven with discounts and frequent flyer plans.

Cost reductions will only happen if there is significant competition from cost consious buyers. The space market will have to change a lot before that happens.

Re:Lowered cost? (2, Insightful)

erlenic (95003) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158368)

As seen in 1950:

You make the assumption that airline flight is going to be cost driven with discounts and frequent flyer plans.

Cost reductions will only happen if there is significant competition from cost consious buyers. The airline market will have to change a lot before that happens.

Cooperation (3, Interesting)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157929)

I wonder how much cooperation is going to be forced on the space faring nations over the next couple of years as they vie for more expensive technology with ever shrinking resources.

Re:Cooperation (2, Informative)

CSMastermind (847625) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158224)

I'm willing to say it will lead to less cooperation....well maybe some at the start of things. I'm reminded of the age of exploration in the Americas. I think it will lead to some cooperation in the inital exploration phase, but once someone gets a coloney down or a mining facility up, it'll be no holds barred imperialism again.

Nanotech? (3, Insightful)

0kComputer (872064) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157939)

Over the next decade, JAXA's plan calls for scientists to develop robots and nanotechnology for surveys of the moon

I thought Nanotech was still in its infancy. What are they going to do, dump a bunch of buckyballs in a crater?

Re:Nanotech? (2, Insightful)

rewinn (647614) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158112)

Nanotech may indeed be in its infancy, but isn't that a good reason to plan ahead?

IIRC, Apollo was planned in the punched-card era. Compared to the beloved IBM 1138, my cellphone is practially nanotech.

Re:Nanotech? (1)

ThreeE (786934) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158115)

No kidding. Building a space program on tech that is at a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 5 is not a good idea. All the Japanese have to do is look at the fine example the US has provided when we have tried.

Re:Nanotech? (1)

ThreeE (786934) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158136)

Excuse me, I meant less than 5...

Re:Nanotech? (2, Funny)

Percent Man (756972) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158228)

Over the next decade, JAXA's plan calls for scientists to use buzzwords like "nanotechnology" and "hydrogen-powered."

Yeah, that sounds more like it.

Re:Nanotech? (4, Insightful)

nacturation (646836) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158357)

"Over the next decade... develop nanotechnology..."

I thought Nanotech was still in its infancy.


Right, which is why they're developing it. In ten years, a human infant is no longer an infant. Of course, it remains to be seen whether nanotech can sustain a similar level of growth.

Wish We Had A Plan (0, Offtopic)

DumbSwede (521261) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157957)

Instead of some vague idea about going to Mars...

I had prepared this rather long post in response to the Shuttle Rollout, but I'll sneak it in here since it mostly applies.

Shuttle Rollout -- What crack? We don't see no crack

I started to prepare this post when the rollout was in jeopardy, now: engineers determined the crack was a "minor imperfection" Hopefully not famous last words. I'm surprised the CNN.com article Shuttle Rollout Under Way [cnn.com] hasn't been posted on Slashdot's main page yet.

These things are big, the external tank by itself if 154 feet long, so about the size of a 15-story building. Even though these things haven't been up in space for the last 2 years doesn't mean they are weathering and aging just sitting on the ground. The vertical assembly building has its own weather, so it's not like these things are sitting in an air-conditioned office 27-7.

The fleet is getting old and were expected to have been replaced by now, though after each having each done something like 50-100 missions individually -- numbers we will never see. What percentage of car owners are driving cars built in the early '80s?

Until a replacement vehicle comes along we should have been building at least one new shuttle every 5 years. Didn't get 50 missions in? Tough -- decommission at like 10 or 15 years. Sure it can cost more money to build things more slowly 1 at a time, but if you schedule for it, and budget for it, its not necessarily more expensive. Just make sure your build rate is commensurate with the mission increase. Then you get to use better materials, better technology in the newer vehicles. Granted there is something to be said for uniformity in guaranteeing safety, but the shuttles are not all identical by a long shot. Columbia couldn't dock with the ISS for instance, but could theoretically have brought the Hubble down from orbit.

There are costs in certifying old equipment, which may not equal new equipment cost, but I'll bet in the Shuttle's case they are getting close, or exceed what replacements costs would have been if we had kept a low turnout build process in place.

Now we are paralyzed and unable to do anything reasonable with our manned program.

My recommendations:

  1. Build a catapult like launch assist device what can be used with a variety of to-space concepts. Even a slightly redesigned shuttle might get significant payload to orbit benefits from a maglift-assisted takeoff.

  2. Quit obsessing on Going to Mars. Send robots to settle the Any-Life question once and for all. Current odds are shifting towards probably currently life. We can't afford to pollute that biosphere until we have studied it thoroughly and had automated sample return missions.

  3. Find something for humans to do in Space other than going to Mars. It isn't like the New World. No big bang for the buck until launch costs are 100-1000 times cheaper. No colonization in our lifetime. Sorry. How about asteroid mining? We need an asteroid capture program that puts these things in stable Lagrange points. Working these things probably would be more efficient for humans than machines (at least for now). Lets start building stuff in space from in-situ materials.

  4. Use the ISS as a way station for sample return missions and hype it that way. I'm not worried about Mars germs, but if we do detect life, I predict a huge row over possible accidental release during a direct return. This would placate the public and give the ISS a true research mission. And in the extremely unlikely event the critters are virulent to any degree to any animal specimens we expose them to then the samples never come Earthside. And should the Astronauts ever become exposed in any fashion (or suspected) they'll just have to resign themselves to living out the rest of their days in Space.

  5. If you are going to keep using the Shuttle make a Heavy-Lift Cargo-Only variant. Make existing shuttles automated. Most of the time you have a crew, but in the event you don't trust coming back down, you stay at the ISS and send the Shuttle home alone. Don't trust landing with the Hubble? Send up an unmanned Shuttle, capture and return (assuming Canada-Arm can get the solar panels off or stowed). The Russians automated their shuttle the Buran in the '80s and returned from orbit unmanned. The astronauts actively petitioned to keep the Shuttles from having an automated land capability -- nothing like Job-Security I guess.

  6. Quit trying to figure out how to keep our bodies from deteriorating from long-term weightlessness and start implementing artificial G solutions with rotating environments. Mars has about 1/3 Earth's gravity. How about aiming for 1/3 G prolonged exposure and see how the body handles that? It might even prove to be a health boost. Maybe in the distant, distant future Mars is for Geriatrics who can't take Earth's gravity.

Re:Wish We Had A Plan (5, Informative)

ThreeE (786934) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158033)

To say we don't have a plan is pretty ignorant. Go look at http://exploration.nasa.gov/ [nasa.gov] and you'll see it in great detail. I think what you mean to say is that you don't agree with it -- so say that instead. And going to Mars is a very small, far off part of that plan.

Finally, most of your six points are part of that plan -- except for the maglift sci-fi you propose.

Respectfully, it looks like you have some reading to do.

Re:Wish We Had A Plan (1)

UrgleHoth (50415) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158205)

What percentage of car owners are driving cars built in the early '80s?

comparing the shuttle fleet to consumer automobiles is disingenuous. A much more honest, but not perfect example is commercial aircraft. With proper maintenance, aircraft are kept flying for decades [faa.gov] .

Re:Wish We Had A Plan (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12158217)

We do have a plan, its called lets see how many rights we can give up and jobs we can outsource and assholes we can elect.

Catapults vs. aircraft (1)

rcw-work (30090) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158303)

Build a catapult like launch assist device what can be used with a variety of to-space concepts. Even a slightly redesigned shuttle might get significant payload to orbit benefits from a maglift-assisted takeoff.

Is this an improvement over the ~600mph and 50000' boost that an aircraft (such as the X-series research aircraft's B29s/B52s and SpaceShipOne's White Knight) could provide?

(747's already piggyback the Shuttle - granted, that's without boosters/external tank, but an aircraft that large still wouldn't be prohibitively expensive, and smaller aircraft can be used to further prove the concept).

Spiral Development Might Be a Good Idea... (5, Interesting)

ThreeE (786934) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157958)

All this Japanese talk of the moon and beyond is great -- and welcome, but I think Japan should concentrate on simply putting a human above 62.5 miles safely first...without cancelling the program.

Re:Spiral Development Might Be a Good Idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12158099)

<flashback date="50 years ago">All this American talk of the moon and beyond is great and welcome, but I think America should concentrate on launching a sputnik-like satellite safely first.

Re:Spiral Development Might Be a Good Idea... (1)

ThreeE (786934) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158173)

50 years ago would be 1955 -- and we did talk about a suborbital program before going to the moon and beyond...

There is a point here somewhere?

Re:Spiral Development Might Be a Good Idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12158308)

Technology once developed in a basic field that is then opened to the international scientific and engineering communities need not be repeated-it is even the case that the later nations adopting space flight as a goal will surpass all of the benchmarks in exploration that, excepting limitations due to possible or maximum achievable speed, were made during that same period or as a result of activities of that period by one of the earlier nations. Yes, I mean that China, Japan, the ESA may well achieve more in the same time that it took the US or CCCP to accomplish some basic research as that basic research has already been done and could be used, likely, as at least a guide from more refined research that then would leave those first nations behind.

Re:Spiral Development Might Be a Good Idea... (1)

ThreeE (786934) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158396)

Very true -- and scary unless you like the type of government espoused by China.

My point is that of all the steps you have to take as a nation to land a human on the moon, getting one to safely to orbit and back is the largest of them all -- it represents a huge leap of capabililty from suborbital flight. That's something even Rutan doesn't seem to get.

projects != eventual (1)

Lil-Bondy (849941) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157961)

"Other aerospace projects include a passenger airliner that will travel at Mach 2 -- or twice the speed of sound -- for five-hour Tokyo-Los Angeles flights and an unmanned, hydrogen-fueled plane that can travel at Mach 5." - these are projects, many projects dont go past the ideas stage. dont be fooled by the word eventual, it shouldnt be there

Japan is a small island. . . (5, Funny)

krf (873528) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157977)

They have obviously run out of places to put hidden giant-mecha hangers, and are looking for room to build more.

Robotic moon surveyors, indeed!

20 years!? (5, Insightful)

Reignking (832642) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157984)

This is one thing that I love about Japanese culture -- the ability to plan long-term. Their companies will develop 5-year plans while here in the US, we're preoccupied with every 3 months...

Re:20 years!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12158045)

I dunno... The states put a man on the moon in less than 10 years of planning. And that was 36 years ago.

Re:20 years!? (1)

ThreeE (786934) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158054)

...and you are welcome to go enjoy their 10 year depressions instead of our 1.5 month recessions...

Re:20 years!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12158164)

1.5 month recessions? Assuming implied comparison with United States: it has been six years, with average 3.75% improvements every 18 months over the last two years from the new base that is 30% lower than that of the former.

Re:20 years!? (2, Informative)

ThreeE (786934) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158242)

Huh? The last recession ended in 7/2003 http://www.nber.org/cycles/july2003.html [nber.org] and certainly didn't last six year... Check your facts and get back with us.

Re:20 years!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12158231)

50 year plan:
Wait till you think nobody is looking and rewrite your history books [iht.com]

Google Maps (3, Funny)

ajs (35943) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157996)

Hey, if Japan just gets me decent sat. imagery for New Hampshire that Google Maps can use, I'd be happy ;-)

Robots in space (3, Funny)

Virtual Karma (862416) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158013)

Now they can put the robot we saw in action here [slashdot.org] in space and have them fight the ultimate war of the machines. Imagine you having nuke armed robots on mars attacking flying robots over jupiter... pretty cool

So, this "Japan" outfit... (1, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158015)

Are they accepting resumes? Japanese speakers only? Will they foot the bill for one of those intensive, immersive language camps if they like me?

I could live in Japan. I already watch way too much anime and read too many magnas. They have, like, five story stores there with nothing but. :-)

You don't read enough of 'em (1)

mandrake*rpgdx (650221) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158109)

or else you would know that they are MANGA and not MAGNA.

yes, typo, I know. But still....a real Otaku would use a japanese to engrish spellchecker.

Re:You don't read enough of 'em (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12158376)

NO, NO, NO!

They have Magma, you know that molten rock found around Mt Fuji?

Why Repeat Our Mistakes? (5, Insightful)

rewinn (647614) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158024)

Why should Asian space efforts go for "manned" space flights?

I love Star Trek as much as anybody but the human body is a very difficult payload to sustain. If Japan is going to do serious planetary exploration (...and I wish them well at this...) then the first step should be to define goals and discard things with a low payoff

Apart from publicity stunts and tourism (... which should be self-funding ...), what goals are served by putting humans on the moon or in cislunar space?

Robots can explore far more cheaply than humans, so for any particular amount of money, we can do more exploration with robots than with humans.

The idea that humans can make on-site decisions better than robots can is simply an artifact of time-scale. That is, while there is some necessary time-lag between a robot noticing a funny rock on Mars or Titan, reporting back to Mission Control on Earth, and then acting on directions ... so what? The robot is patient, doesn't sleep, and if properly powered doesn't have to worry about food supplies.

Like I said, I love Star Trek but until we get really, really serious advances in technology, lunar and cislunar exploration is more sensibly done with robots.

But I'd be interested in contrary views.

Re:Why Repeat Our Mistakes? (2, Insightful)

ThreeE (786934) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158087)

Very simply, a large fraction of the people paying the bills (the US taxpayers) feel that the human perspective is a key part of space travel. So much so, that that is what they are primarily paying for.

Other viewpoints include the utility of human decision making vs. silicon decision making. Today, and for the foreseeable future, it is superior.

For long round trip transmission you are right (3, Insightful)

aepervius (535155) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158203)

But for exploring the moon, less than 2 light second away, frankly a remote controlled robot is far more than enough, and all decision making are on earth, without having to take tons of water, food, meatbags, air, and protection against radiation or whatnot. And that was I think the point of the poster. He was not in any respect speaking of implementing any decision making into a robot.

Re:For long round trip transmission you are right (1)

ThreeE (786934) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158291)

Point taken.

I do believe that even for cislunar space, joint human/robotic exploration is called for. Reliance on either exclusively is silly.

Re:For long round trip transmission you are right (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158299)

Exactly, but we still want to go there just for a sake of it. So send a robot army to build a base and landing system. Then send the humans!

Re:Why Repeat Our Mistakes? (1)

Reignking (832642) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158161)

Maybe they should start with monkeys...

Re:Why Repeat Our Mistakes? (3, Funny)

carpe_noctem (457178) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158162)

Well, robots are far more likely to turn against their masters and hatch a plot to take over the world. We wouldn't want to turn a fresh, virgin planet over to the robots so soon, would we?!

Two words (4, Insightful)

Auckerman (223266) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158181)

National prestige. That's why. Not all money spent needs to be justified on a quantifiable physical or economic asset. Somethings just can't be graphed on paper. In the end, the feeling people get seeing their citizens on another planet can arguable have more of an impact on that society than spending the same resources on robot missions.

People are allowed to be people, you know. Naturally curious and sometimes doing dangerous and expensive things that have no obvious economic interest.

Re:Two words (2, Insightful)

hsmith (818216) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158407)

I love how this gets modded up on socialist /.

there are far bigger problems we need to resolve on earth, such as oil dependency. if these countries dumped this money into a "alternative fuel race" instead of a space race, we would have more expendable income because we would be free from the harness of oil. lets worry about this planet first before we start wasting tax money again.

Re:Why Repeat Our Mistakes? (5, Insightful)

MagPulse (316) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158241)

"We choose to go to the moon... Not because it is easy, but because it is hard."
-JFK, 1962

In other words, it's inspiring. If not for the moon landing, a generation of scientists and engineers would've become something else, and our civilization would be the worse for it.

The reason we're seeing independent human spaceflight and governments starting to talk about ambitious space programs again is that those people have grown up and are wondering what happened to their dreams. If we get humans out to the moon and Mars in the next few decades, we will fulfill some of those dreams and give new ones to our children.

Re:Why Repeat Our Mistakes? (4, Insightful)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158255)

Your ideal of a quest for knowledge is noble, but for many there is also that quest for experience. Just knowing what is on Mars is much different than actually being on Mars.

Millions of tourists travel yearly to well documented locations. Would their $5,000 vacation to tour Italy be better spent just reading some books and looking at the pictures. I mean then you don't have to worry about lost luggage, weather, being robbed, getting lost etc...

I know most geeks don't really understand but there is more to life than knowledge.

Re:Why Repeat Our Mistakes? (2, Insightful)

AnonymousJackass (849899) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158256)

I think the common argument against your idea is that humans have the ability to think "outside the box". We can react to events in a near-infinite number of ways. For example, Apollo 13 would've failed miserably (assuming you can call it a "success") if it were robots on board instead of humans. AI has a long way to go before it can match our decision-making skills.

Having said all that, I tend to agree with you. Humans are a burden on these missions -- we may be flexible of mind, but we are not flexible of body, especially when considering the time-periods involved in travelling to other Solar System bodies. I think the success of the Mars rovers has proved that robots have a real future in space.

Re:Why Repeat Our Mistakes? (1)

Eminence (225397) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158264)

  • Like I said, I love Star Trek but until we get really, really serious advances in technology, lunar and cislunar exploration is more sensibly done with robots.

Tell me, how are we then going to get those new technologies for human space flight?

Re:Why Repeat Our Mistakes? (1)

Bjarke Roune (107212) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158369)

Spacefligt is done to get chicks. Manned fligts gets more chicks than unmanned flights. The equation is something like this:

prestige = penis

Because we CAN. (4, Insightful)

solios (53048) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158413)

If we're ever going to get off this frigging rock, we need man-rated vehicles, we need efficient launch solutions, we need fast turnaround and we need sustainable habitats.

NASA has one man rated vehicle that is grossly expensive to launch, has a turnaround that is at best seasonal, and is currently used to service a barely sustainable habitat that is essentially a badly under-crewed garbage barge orbiting too low to avoid reentry without constant readjustment.

NASA, assuming they have ANY interest in the future of manned spaceflight, just isn't getting the job done. Competition is good. It took getting our ass handed to us by the Russians with Sputnik, etc. for us to even start giving a shit about space- if China or Japan puts a man on the moon, you can bet we'll be busting ass to beat them to mars.

500 years ago you probably would have been insisting on a land route to china, since it's Safe And Proven and Doesn't Risk Equipment Or Lives, etc, etc.

Outsourcing (0, Flamebait)

bsandersen (835481) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158058)

Perhaps it would be best if we were to convince the Japanese that they should take over the stewardship of the Hubble Space Telescope and the Voyager Probe, both of which are now slated for abandonment by the Bush administration. This would give the Japanese the ability to take over efforts that were well run and highly successful. As discussed here on slashdot, the very small costs would hardly be a blip compared to their current plans.

Americans could then consider this just one more instance of outsourcing under the Bush administration, a policy that they've applauded. -- Scott

Re:Outsourcing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12158230)

sure, sell them the Hubble and I'll bet they send up a team of engineers to reverse-engineer the Hubble and design a new model small enough to fit into your pocket or hang stylishly from a Rivet microfastener belt clip (www.rivetequipped.com). :)

Re:Outsourcing (2, Informative)

Auckerman (223266) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158374)

"Perhaps it would be best if we were to convince the Japanese that they should take over the stewardship of the Hubble Space Telescope and the Voyager Probe, both of which are now slated for abandonment by the Bush administration"

You are incorrect. The current congress/adminstration has specifically budgeted money for Hubble to remain in use and it is NASA that is not spending that money and cancelling Hubble.

hondaship (4, Funny)

fox9397 (873641) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158110)

I wonder if the space ship will use 4 rocket boosters mounted sideways, in an innovative space saving design with front rocket Drive.

Re:hondaship (2, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158238)

Actually Goddard;s first rocket was front drive :)

oh yeah, here it comes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12158128)

"Space: The Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. It's twenty year mission: To explore strange new worlds... To seek out new life, and new civilizations... To find new markets for Sony Walkmans, Plasma screen TVs and those cute little Tamagotchi... To Boldly Go Where No gaikokujin Has dared go Before..."

[up music, cue plastic model... pan camera to simulate entry into warp speed...]

All right Japan! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12158132)

Welcome to the space race. You want some underage girls to assault with that?

need to explore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12158167)

Of course there really isn't a specific need except consider countries that stop exploring become third world countries.

Schoolgirls of Mars (3, Funny)

The I Shing (700142) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158183)

If Mars had plaid-skirted schoolgirls living on it they'd have been there twenty years ago. Am I right? Am I right? Is this thing on? Thank you, I'll be here all week.

If mars had.... (1)

TyfStar (747185) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158332)

Damnit.. why don't they have a moderation for "Groan" ... and then people that haven't groaned enough during the day can set that REALLY high...

and read nothing but really, really bad jokes all day.

But, while we're on the subject... "If Mars had Oil in it's belly, the US would have invaded it years ago, claiming the aliens were being ruled by an evil overlord"

Re:Schoolgirls of Mars (1)

fr2asbury (462941) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158435)

Japanese schoolgirls wear the little sailor outfits. It's the American Catholic school girls in the plaid skirts. Um . . . . not that I really pay attention to that sort of thing or anything.
Hey! How about that NCAA final!?!

Japan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12158201)

First mechas now space missions. What's next, ninja hackers?

Ummm... (1)

forum__32 (690326) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158212)

Where are they planning to take off from? All the space centers I have ever heard of have always been in remote locations. And last time I checked, these aren't in abundance in Japan...

Meanwhile... (4, Interesting)

Wiktor Kochanowski (5740) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158214)

...oil is almost at $57 per barrel and going up.

It really strikes me that nobody evaluates the feasibility of things like Mach 2 air travel in the face of the end of cheap oil era on the horizon. Even as anybody can observe the total failure that today's airlines already are -- due to that very factor.

Re:Meanwhile... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12158254)

mod parent up!
in 20 years, oil will be at more than 100$ per barrel for sure, and "alternative" energy are crap...
http://peakoil.com [peakoil.com] is your friend!

Re:Meanwhile... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158394)

Alternative energy "are" crap? Nice going there, sparky. Did you know that the VW 2 liter TDI has more horsepower AND torque than the average gasoline-fueled V6? You can run diesels on all kinds of wacky fuels, like plant oils.

Re:Meanwhile... (2, Insightful)

ncb000gt (865657) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158371)

Yes but if you develop the design then power is just secondary and can be interchangeable at the point that it has to be. Soon in the future there will be extremely efficient methods of alternative fuels and those can then be used. While they will cost a good deal starting out, it should become much more cost effective as it will be a necessity.

You are correct that today the cost of oil is high and will be so, but it is not the end all to travel by vehicles. This is something that MUST be recognized. An alternative will be produced.

Screw the Mach-5 planes... (1)

the_skywise (189793) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158226)

We can already do those...

Where's the friggin' VERITECHS!?!?!

Three little words... (1)

Magnusite (526038) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158248)

Fifth Generation Project

Strange... (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158281)

There's no mention of Mechs. Or the Yamato. Not even a single reference to a wave motion gun! Ah well, maybe those are in the next 20 year phase.

Seriously though, good luck Japan! I only wish we were as forward thinking as you guys seem to be. As it is, we can't even find a few million to keep getting data from Voyager [bbc.co.uk] .

Learn from us, do yourselves a favor and budget past those 20. You'll be glad you did, someday.

With what money? (1)

hsmith (818216) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158325)

Japan is broke as well is the United States. How does japan plan to accomplish this feat? More debt i assume?

YESSS!!! (1)

IdJit (78604) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158360)

Bring on the MECHA!!!

Japan and aerospace. (2, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158361)

Aerospace really seems to be the one place that Japan is behined the US, the EU, Russia, and even China.
Take a look at there "plans".
A Mach 2 airliner? The Concorde already did that. A Mach 5 unmanned aircraft? The shuttle and X-15 already beat those speeds and they where manned.

Re:Japan and aerospace. (1)

Bullfish (858648) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158503)

It's not about what others have done. It is in fact that they are behind that they want to do this. Ditto the Chinese. Ultimately you develop new technology, manufacturing techniques etc by reaching beyond what you have achieved. It is the main reason for exploration, to find the new. This doesn't have to be a place, but can be a new way of doing things or a new thing you can do something else with.

More of this type of thing is going to be happening and by more players. Simply, many nations in the rest of the world are achieving a threshold of affluence where this type of development can occur, and will.

Them Japanese (1)

Patrick Mannion (782290) | more than 9 years ago | (#12158393)

With there robots and there mach-speed space planes! Wonders why don't have those. Oh wait, we do, except they always seem to horibbly fail..except the robots, then again not all of them are robots, some are just a guy typing away at console or moving a joystick that control them.

It's funny how we were dicussing Japan and Mars in the Mars Rover story and then boom, here it is again

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