Saturday science subject: Japan's moon base

We're already in 2006, but there's still a distinct lack of flying cars, jetpacks, moon bases, and giant robots out there. Thankfully, Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), aims to catch up by having a base built on the moon by 2030. In an endeavor expected to cost a staggering $26 billion, the folks at JAXA hope to have men sent to the moon by 2020 and to have a base built there 10 years later. JAXA has yet to receive funding for the project, but Nature says a "vocal group of Japanese scientists" has pushed to make the plan go ahead.

As interesting as this project may sound, a European Space Agency project manager quizzed by Nature has his doubts. He suggests that the cost of a moon base is too high for a single country, and that such a project would have to be a joint international effort. For its part, JAXA hasn't yet decided whether it will enlist international help if its moon base plan is to go ahead.

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