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The first wave of Japanese lunar robots will land in 2015.  (Source: NODE/JAXA)

They will be followed by a full-fledged base in 2020, which may one day host human guests.  (Source: NODE/JAXA)
U.S. will have to sit this one out

Even as the U.S. begrudgingly watches it own 21st century Moon-landing aspirations fade into the sunset, other nations are more than happy to pick up the slack.  We've already covered China and India's lunar ambitions extensively.

Now another Asian superpower is thirsting for the resources buried on Earth's largest natural satellite.  According to a report in Japanese publication 
NODE, JAXA, Japan's space program, is looking to pour $2.2B USD into plans to put an army of robots (peaceful robots, of course) on the Moon.

Japan, always on the cutting edge of technology, has come up with all sorts of creative and outlandish uses for robots.  But its lunarbots may just steal show.  

JAXA plans on landing humanoid robots on the moon by 2015.  After receiving the official backing of the Japanese Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama, the mission timeline has been expanded to include plans for a full fledged robot space-base by 2020.

The robot invasion will start when 660-pound robots with treads land in 2015.  These WALL-E-esque robots will come equipped with solar panels, seismographs, high-def cameras, and loads of sensors.  These robots will also come with human-like arms to collect lunar rocks, which they will deposit in a rocket that will launch on a return flight to Earth.

The first wave of robots will be Earth-controlled, but will be semi-autonomous.  They will pave the way for a full-fledged robot colonization, highlighted by the construction of a lunar base near the Moon's south pole.  The solar powered base will prove an ideal resource harvesting depot and landing spot for future robots.  It may even host human guests in the near future.  The base will be populated by self-repairing, multitasking, pseudo-intelligent androids.

Given the wealth of technology the U.S.'s human Moon program yielded, it's almost certain that the Japanese program will offer some interesting developments, even if it fails to meet its incredibly ambitious goals.

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Curious assertion...
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 6/1/2010 7:36:06 AM , Rating: 4
Now another Asian superpower is thirsting for the resources buried on Earth's largest natural satellite.

Does the Earth have more than one natural satellite? Using the superlative this way asserts that there more than two (otherwise you would use the comparative "larger.") Did I miss something in my Astronomy classes? (seriously, I am not trying to be a putz.)

RE: Curious assertion...
By unsprung on 6/1/2010 7:46:23 AM , Rating: 1
Did I miss something in my Astronomy classes? (seriously, I am not trying to be a putz.)

What, you mean you don't know about Earth's other moons, Dobos and Pheimos?

RE: Curious assertion...
By SmilingMan on 6/1/2010 8:13:31 AM , Rating: 1
Actually, yes. There are a number of smaller natural satellites orbiting us, though only Luna (the Moon) has been defined as large enough to be defined as an actual moon.
The largest is Cruithne, which is in orbit with us, but not necessarily around us -

RE: Curious assertion...
By SandmanWN on 6/1/2010 9:43:41 AM , Rating: 5
Uhm, No. Its an asteroid and it orbits the Sun, not the Earth. It only happens to be very near the Earth. It says so in your own link.

RE: Curious assertion...
By grandpope on 6/3/2010 5:19:30 PM , Rating: 2
That's no moon, it's a space station!

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