ASI W9900325r1.0

Moon Miners' Manifesto

#107 July 1997

Section the Artemis Data Book

Lunar Outpost Fever in Japan

Lunar Outpost Fever in Japan
Condensed by MMM from an article by Paul Kallender

© 1996 by Internet Access Center - itself based on a previous Japan Space Net report covering the Kyoto Lunar Conference last year. Kyoto, Japan Fall '96 - Space agency spokesperson Yasunori Matogawa, Professor Shigebumi Saito, industrialist Yutaro Iida and the dozens of astronautics scientists assembled on the fourth-floor atrium of the Kyoto Research Park last fall. As the Park's retractable roof gives way to the firmament, the din of conferring rocket scientists downshifts into a courteous babble of sighs. Dead center of the tableau lies the lush, full harvest Moon.

Gathered in Kyoto for the Second Interma-tional Lunar Workshop, were many who dream of a permanently manned Moon base, lunar mines, fusion reactors, planet-wide solar cells, observatories and hotels. Such discussions provoke neither astonishment nor censure. Yet in the astronautics world at large, the advocates of manned lunar landings are considered, at best, romantics.

The consensus among the world's top space organizations (NASA, Russian Space Agency RSA) remains in favor of unmanned exploration; probes are cheaper and lives aren't risked. But European, Russian and American space communities all have man-on-the-Moon factions.

Modern Moon-lust traces back to the failure of the Apollo program to teach us enough about our nearest cosmic neighbor. The billions of dollars it took to plant the American flag on the Moon's crust left plenty more to explore. The void remains costly, and thus paradoxically inviting to powerful science bureaucrats looking for maximum budget share.

Matogawa, the launch director at the Institute of Space and Aeronautical Science (ISAS), which, along with the National Space and Development Agency, plans to spend 5180 B yen next year on outer space; Saito, professor emeritus of Tokyo University; and Yotaro Iida, chairman of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries have helped spread the project's power base into the highest echelons of academia and private industry. As a group, Japan's Moonies form a potent faction within the space-industrial complex.

Along with about thirty other scientists, industrialists and engineers, these men founded the Lunar and Planetary Society (LPS), an informal pressure group. Together, they formulated the Moon faction's manifesto "Building a Manned Lunar Station: the Unmanned Formula. This report urges construction of a permanent manned station on the Moon within 30 years and seeks cooperation from any country or organization willing to share the burden.

The Moon faction is serious. They want 53 trillion yen to realize their plans and they host international symposiums like the Kyoto Workshop.

As hinted at in the title of their manifesto, the manned lunar plan launches with a 5146.4 billion yen unmanned phase:

Phase II, 2006 - 2016, calls for The 51.03 trillion yen Phase III brings up the habitation modules and completes the food and energy facilities by 2023. Phase IV would see crews of three rotated into the lunar base in six-month intervals for one-year stays. Averaged annual cost of all this is 5150 billion yen. NASDA scientists came up with the Moon plan after the advent of the H-2, which was developed for very big missions. A manned lunar rerun may ensure continued massive investment in satellites, spacecraft and the H-2A, Japan's next-century satellite launcher. Yet to fly, the H-2A will be expensive. It's projected 5140 million yen per-blastoff price-tag is about double the competition's, but Hughes Satellite and Communications Corp. has 10 launches booked. Its main rival, the Ariane 5, blew up seconds after its first launch.

Last year, SAC approved manned lunar exploration as a long-term goal. Nothing is guaranteed - space policy is rewritten every decade so - but the inclusion of the manned program represents a clear signal that the project is officially on the agenda.

Prospects for funding are not getting better. After increases averaging 5 percent-plus over inflation from 1990-95, NASDA budget hikes over the past two years dwindled to 1.7 % in 1996, lowest in decades. Two satellites and the Selene mission, face a one-year delay. Phase I of the lunar mission, Selene represents the genesis of the Moon-faction's dream.

Meanwhile Russia's lunar program prospects have never been dimmer. US space industry newspapers weekly catalog the RSA's lack of funding. Russia's own aging MIR, is currently accepting food aid via the U.S. space shuttle. Yet international cooperation may be easier to achieve than accord within the Moon faction itself. The Kyoto lunar workshop did little to bring the Moon any closer.

"Why do we want to go to the Moon? We'll never receive one penny for this unless we explain that. The whole point is to put men on the Moon."

"The first step, is to build the first step."

[Thanks to Simon Rowland and Harald Schenk for bringing the original article to MMM attention.]

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