Skip to comments.Japan: The New Pioneer of the Final Frontier? (Their Latest Space Programs Shine !)
Posted on 06/21/2010 7:11:31 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
The country that invented the Walkman may be back on track to burnish its image as a technological pioneer. Right now, more than 4.7 million miles from Earth, is a revolutionary spacecraft that could be the future of interstellar travel. Japan's space program, JAXA, confirmed on June 10 they had successfully unfurled the world's first solar sail a spacecraft that uses the velocity of sunlight to propel it. Then, just three days later, Japan announced what could be an even more impressive accomplishment: a spacecraft that left Earth seven years ago had returned home. Before brilliantly burning up over Australia, the ship ejected a soccer-ball-sized pod a modest container that may contain the first fragments of an asteroid ever brought to earth and provide clues about the origins of our planet. Not bad for a spacecraft running three years behind schedule and without three of its four engines.
These space exploits couldn't have come at a better time for Japan's space agency. With a stagnant economy and massive public debt, the new Prime Minister Naoto Kan has promised to make cuts to Japan's sprawling bureaucracy, and JAXA will surely come under scrutiny. During the previous administration, the Wall Street Journal reported that the government revitalization unit recommended in April the space agency start raising more money from the private sector. Before that, JAXA requested almost $19 million to develop a follow-up asteroid project, but the Hatoyama administration only allocated a meager $330,000. These were not encouraging signs for the future of the agency, and this from the Prime Minister whose wife once claimed aliens took her soul to Venus in a triangular spacecraft.
(Excerpt) Read more at time.com ...
The Hayabusa Space Probe project is already a landmark mission. The Hayabusa’s journey was the first ever round-trip to a celestial body other than the moon. The craft has determined Itokawa’s size, shape, density and approximate makeup. Still, the real boon was bringing the first asteroid samples home, where more detailed analysis could take place.
The Hayabusa disintegrated as it re-entered the earth’s atmosphere on June 13, creating a brilliant display over central Australia “like fireworks” says JAXA’s Miwada. But a few hours before burning up, it successfully ejected a small pod that likely contains the first asteroid fragments brought back to Earth. The capsule was located in the Australian outback and returned to Japan on June 17, still apparently sealed.
Well, if we’re going to abdicate the high ground position, I’d rather see them assume it than anyone else. A bit concerned about their repeat of Project Scoop, though.
On an abstract level, a healthy nation “pioneers” space while countries on their last legs (i.e. China, the United States, and the old soviet Union) weaponize it. Similarly, a healthy country manufactures high-quality goods destined for a wide market, while a sickly nation manufactures mostly weapons (see the above three).
My money is on Japan, India, and Brazil being on top in fifteen or twenty years. They’ve all got problems to work out, but they’re on their way. Yes, even Japan.
Historical trends. Do you recognize them?
I base my comment on Japan’s recent trends towards altering her financial base through lower taxes and a move off the dollar standard. They are presently investing VERY heavily in
extremely advanced technologies and industries, and are paying down their debts, both nationally and personally (what an idea!).
The Japanese are probably the most dynamic people on the planet. Also, for the most part, they consider their elderly as an asset and not a liability, as we do here.
While I agree with your comment that South Korea has a high place in the future, adding them would require that I also include Turkey and places like the Czech Republic, that also have their eyes on the future. I had to limit my list to only a few of the hungry countries waiting to take our place.
Good catch about project Scoop.
“There’s a fire”