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Robotics Space Science

Japanese Agency Plan for Robot Lunar Base 256

Posted by Hemos
from the optimistic-futur dept.
Dilaudid writes "According to these articles Keiji Tachikawa, head of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency sees a major role in the lunar base planned by NASA in 2020. 'As part of the plan Japan would use advanced robotic technologies to help build the moon base ... Japan's lunar robots would do work such as building telescopes and prospecting and mining for minerals, Tachikawa said.' Tachikawa was voted one of the 25 most influential global leaders by Time... I wish him luck!"
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Japanese Agency Plan for Robot Lunar Base

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  • Theories (asinine) (Score:4, Insightful)

    by conner_bw (120497) on Monday June 20, 2005 @09:16AM (#12862849) Homepage Journal
    Japan's aging population, declining birthrate, and xenophobia hostile towards immigration as a solution to labor shortage is the driving force behind all this robotizing. Who needs people when robots can do the work? Toyota [slashdot.org] and many other high tech firms believe the same, thus curbing any change in Japanese immigration law. (Have you tried becoming a citizen lately?)

    Japanese robots on the moon, is this the beginnings of post-colonial cyborg imperialism?
    • by mfh (56) on Monday June 20, 2005 @09:20AM (#12862891) Homepage Journal
      "Japanese robots on the moon, is this the beginnings of post-colonial cyborg imperialism?"

      When NASA was founded in 1958, Japan was really still recovering from Nagasaki and Hirshima [gensuikin.org], 13 years earlier. It wasn't until August 1967 when the reinforcement construction was completed on A-bomb Dome in Hiroshima.

      Keiji Tachikawa's last name is the same as Tachikawa [wikipedia.org], a town outside of Tokyo, founded on December 1, 1940. Coincidence?

      Japan and the US are now poised to build a very important part of human history together. It's quite moving, IMHO.

      I guess it just shows you that no matter what happens, no matter what the evil stuff is, there always really is hope... unless the lunar space robots are really a ploy to get back at us? Fear the space robots!
      • by LWATCDR (28044)
        "When NASA was founded in 1958, Japan was really still recovering from Nagasaki and Hiroshima, 13 years earlier. It wasn't until August 1967 when the reinforcement construction was completed on A-bomb Dome in Hiroshima."

        Wow welcome to the self loathing guilt riddled world of the politically correct.

        The truth is Japan was still recovering from their genocidal war of conquest that they lost. The war time government of Japan was not any better than Nazi Germany if you where Chinese or Korean. Even today the
        • by packeteer (566398) <{packeteer} {at} {subdimension.com}> on Monday June 20, 2005 @10:18AM (#12863492)
          The war time government of Japan was not any better than Nazi Germany if you where Chinese or Korean.

          Becuase you all know how well The USA treated its own citizens of Japenses decent during the war. And fire bombing/nuclear bombing of Japan and carpet bombing of germany is ok. Yah i gotta say i feel guilty for some of the things my country (USA) did during that war, I think there aren't many countires involved that can think they upheld all of their values by the end of the war. This is not a reason to dislike one country but is a reason to dislike war.
          • by ZosX (517789)
            Becuase you all know how well The USA treated its own citizens of Japenses decent during the war. And fire bombing/nuclear bombing of Japan and carpet bombing of germany is ok. Yah i gotta say i feel guilty for some of the things my country (USA) did during that war, I think there aren't many countires involved that can think they upheld all of their values by the end of the war. This is not a reason to dislike one country but is a reason to dislike war.

            Why feel guilty? Feel proud man! War is brutal and d
            • by Rei (128717) on Monday June 20, 2005 @11:06AM (#12863949) Homepage
              Feel proud man!

              How can you ask a person to feel pride at firebombing Dresden and Tokyo (killing 100-200k people each), and nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki (killing about 250k total), when in each case the war was essentially over? Asking a person to view it as necessary is one thing (which I would strongly disagree, but that's not the point I'm making), but asking a person to be *proud* of the painful (and sometimes prolongued) slaughter of up to half a million people, most of whom were civilians, is appalling.

              the EU would have been the CU

              You haven't looked at Europe's politics lately, have you? :) (j/k)

              I agree, by the way, that the concept of MAD has been good for the world. That doesn't mean that we should be proud of using it, and using firebombings, to brutally slaughter huge numbers of civilians - even if one views it as necessary. It is cruel and unamerican. I think Truman himself said it best [dannen.com] in his diary:

              "This weapon is to be used against Japan between now and August 10th. I have told the Sec. of War, Mr. Stimson, to use it so that military objectives and soldiers and sailors are the target and not women and children. Even if the Japs are savages, ruthless, merciless and fanatic, we as the leader of the world for the common welfare cannot drop that terrible bomb on the old capital or the new.

              He and I are in accord. The target will be a purely military one and we will issue a warning statement asking the Japs to surrender and save lives. I'm sure they will not do that, but we will have given them the chance."

              (note that Truman, given his speeches [dannen.com] in addition to his diary, seemed unaware that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were cities. No such warning, as Truman requested, was ever given, even after the bombing of Hiroshima before the followup on Nagasaki. We had two bombs, and wanted to try them both out on populated areas [dannen.com], even ruling out areas of vital military importance because there wouldn't be enough people there. Undersecretary of the Navy Ralph Bard [dannen.com] took the same position as Truman did in his diary, in weighing in (repeatedly) on the usage of the bomb (even moreso, he was completely convinced by US intelligence that Japan was preparing to surrender even without the bomb, and a demonstration would have been plenty); he was ignored by Groves).
              • by shmlco (594907)
                when in each case the war was essentially over

                The Battle of Okinawa [globalsecurity.org] was one of the bloodiest of the Pacific, killed more people than Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and invasion of the Japanese homeland was projected to be at least 10 times worse.

                While Hiroshima and Nagasaki were unfortunate, it prevented the need for an invasion that would have killed tens of thousands on both sides. In addition, a "public" target was choosen to illustrate to the Japanese people what would happen if their leaders failed to su

              • "(note that Truman, given his speeches in addition to his diary, seemed unaware that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were cities."

                Fantasy at its worst.
                Hiroshima and Nagasaki where both military targets.
                The actual drop points where both military targets.
                There was not any target that was of military value that could have been hit without civilians being killed.
                The idea that Truman did not know they where cities is just stupid. What he never looked at an Atlas?
                He was never shown a map.
                BTW the war was far from over. Th
                • Talk about living in Fantasy Land - I provided links! I provided links to the Undersecretary of the Navy stating that Japan was about to surrender. I provided links to Truman's own diary, and a transcript of his speech right after the bombing (what do you need to prove the point - audio [dannen.com]?).

                  Truman directly wrote in his diary "use it so that military objectives and soldiers and sailors are the target and not women and children". He further wrote "The target will be a purely military one and we will issue a
          • by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday June 20, 2005 @10:43AM (#12863717) Homepage Journal
            "Because you all know how well The USA treated its own citizens of Japanese decent during the war."
            Yes what the US did was wrong. The Equal of what the government of Japan did?
            NO FRIGGING WAY.
            How many beheading of Japanese Americans did the Government of the US do? How many where forced to become "comfort women" for the US Army?
            Want to compare how Japan treated none combatants that they interned? Probably not.

            The US did not attack Japan first. The US was trying to use trying use trade sanctions and political pressure to get Japan to stop it's aggression.
            As far as the carpet bombings and the Atomic Bombs. The number of Chinese and Korean deaths out numbers those by far.
            "This is not a reason to dislike one country but is a reason to dislike war."

            You see this is another BLIND KNEE JERK REACTION!
            In my post did I ever say Japan? Did I ever say the people of Japan? Nope I said the Government of Japan. Specifically the war time government of Japan.
            The war time government of Japan is to blame for the carpet bombings and the atomic bombings. Even after the first Atomic attack they where trying to negotiate for no occupation and they would disarm there own military.
            The myth that is about preserving their Emperor is just that a myth.
            I do not agree that one should not hate a government that carries out genocidal wars like the Japanese and German government did during WWII. I also disagree that by 1941 their was a peaceable way to stop them.
            Had the victors of WWI had set up a "Just Peace" like the US wanted then maybe Hitler would have never come to power. The problem is it was not tried until after the WWII.
            The thing we all have to remember is that the Japan and Germany of today are not the Japan and Germany of WWII. The other important thing to remember is even during WWII most of the people in Japan and German just wanted to raise there kids and live their lives.
            • To be fair, the Japanese were quite hospitable in providing women for the pleasure of our troops during our occupation of Japan. So in this regard they only expect of the lands they occupy the same amenities they willingly provided their own occupiers.

              As for the wanton killing of Chinese by the Japanese, to be fair that continues (although it rarely makes the news) under the current Chinese government today. Battles with farmers and factory workers on one side, and police and paramilitaries on the other oc
            • I have known a number of WWII vets who used to talk about it. A number of them described our troops literally raping women in France, Italy, and Germany. That does not mean it was government sponsored or approved. But the officers did look the other way unless it was directly in front of them.

              As to execution of civilians, again, we did a lot more than is acknowledged. That is not to besmirch the names of those that fought there. Quite simply, it was war.
      • by Gramie2 (411713)
        Keiji Tachikawa's last name is the same as Tachikawa, a town outside of Tokyo, founded on December 1, 1940. Coincidence?

        150 years ago, when common Japanese people were permitted to have surnames (in feudal Japan, only nobility were given the privilege), many of them took the name of the place where they lived, or just names that sounded good.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_name [wikipedia.org]

        Coincidence? Hell yeah! Or is there some deep, possibly Zen meaning to December 1, 1940 of which I am not aware?
    • by JanneM (7445) on Monday June 20, 2005 @09:37AM (#12863060) Homepage
      Who needs people when robots can do the work?

      Well, who _does_ need people when robots can do the work?

      If it happens, we've been there before. About two centuries ago, the vast majority of, well, everyone was gainfully employed in agriculture. Today, in many parts, it's only part of the population - and in wealthy countries it is a small fraction. Yet agricultural output is larger than ever before, and the changing societies managed to absorb that huge pool of available work it got as a result.

      I'm looking forward to the day when most menial, dangerous and physically wearing work can be automated.
      • I'm looking forward to the day when most menial, dangerous and physically wearing work can be automated.

        ...and we'll be living in Caves of Steel.

        They better make sure they build in those 3 laws...
      • I'm looking forward to the day when most menial, dangerous and physically wearing work can be automated. Why's that? You trying to put a very large portion of humanity out of work? Without those jobs available for people to make a living, what are they going to do to support themselves and their families? You have to remember that science fiction is exactly that: fiction. Reality is not the idyllic place that it's made out to be in many stories. And it's not the dystopia that it's made out to be in many ot
        • by toad3k (882007) on Monday June 20, 2005 @10:15AM (#12863466)
          Scenario one. A guy with a hammer. He hammers nails all day, takes his paycheck and goes home.

          Scenario two. A guy overseeing 20 robots with 20 hammers. He directs all day, takes a same sized paycheck goes home to his new home which was built at a 10th the price of the first guy's house because it was built by robots.

          This is progress. This is no different than the fact that people aren't sitting out in cotton fields picking at cotton seeds all day anymore thanks to the cotton gin. There will always be some other work available.
          • Scenario three. A guy with a hammer. He hammers in the morning. He hammers in the evening, all over Japan.
          • by ThosLives (686517) on Monday June 20, 2005 @11:37AM (#12864241) Journal
            Your scenario 2 is a little flawed. It might turn out that way, but it's not guaranteed. This is even assuming that the purchase price of a house is only based on labor [robots] and materials instead of goofy market speculation and politics.

            Here's a situation: person A can build 1 house in 1 year, so he will charge the person to whom he sells the house 1 year's worth of "stuff" he needs and wants: payment for his house, food, savings, entertainment, some free time, etc. Now let's say person A builds a machine (using some of the 'free time' and 'etc.' included in the price he was charing) that allows him to make 1 house in half a year. If person A decides to still only build one house per year and take half a year off, he would probably still charge the original price to pay for his house, food, etc. Person A would probably tell you his quality of life has improved greatly, even though he doesn't have more money. Person A may decide to build 2 houses instead, in which case the price of each house needs to sum to what the person wants, but they don't necessarily have to go to half the original. Even if the person does take "full price" for each house, conceivably the person might not work for as many years and retire early (since he could have saved quite a lot) and the net production of houses he produced might be no greater than before - so there might not be more houses with the machine than without.

            I hope this example shows that it is not clear at all how technology really affects the economy - it really depends on the individuals in that economy.

            • I hope this example shows that it is not clear at all how technology really affects the economy - it really depends on the individuals in that economy.

              You forgot one principal in your example - competition. In reality Person A will either start selling his machine to Person Q, F and G, Person Q, F and G will create their own machines, or Person V will copy it and sell it to Person Q, F and G. Then Person Q will say, "Hmmmm... if I knock 10% off the price of this house I can sell more houses the Person
              • I've seen a couple comments now on the effects of competition. The effects of competition were left out for simplicity, but if we put them back in things become a bit more complicated. But that's what makes it fun, right? :)

                The interesting thing is that prices go down because there is an oversupply, not because of the innovation. Note that in my earlier post where the builder got a machine, he didn't lower the price - he just had to work less. With an oversupply, either the price has to come down (which me

                • Your economics are obviously better than mine, but just an additional thought or two.

                  I don't think reducing prices is as much about increasing the "free time" of consumers as it is about allowing these consumers to consume more. The more disposable income a consumer has the more they can purchase from other producers thereby increasing overall wealth. In recent years this effect has been increased due to the Fed lowering the interest rates. If consumers and businesses can borrow more money they will
      • If it happens, we've been there before. About two centuries ago...

        Yeah, it's happened more recently than that too, at least in the UK.

        1914: 80% of the agricultural workers leave their farms and go to die in a ditch in france.
        1918: half of them come back expecting to pick up where the left off and guess what? Their jobs are not there anymore; they have been mechanised out of work.

        Someone had still had to grow food while they were away, so they invented better tractors and farm machinery.

        Society d

        • So in 1914 they all go die in a ditch in France, then 4 years later half of them *come back*? Only to be surprised by the lack of demand for undead agricultural workers? There's a Penny Arcade cartoon in there somewhere!

          Changing too quickly causes turmoil and economic problems, but, long term, automation is always change for the better.
          It's also inevitable. If you don't change, you'll be conquered by those who do, economically or otherwise.
    • One thing (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MichaelPenne (605299)
      in Japan's defense wrt immigration: they have 127million people crammed into a land area (147500square mi.) smaller than California's(~33million).

      They don't have millions of acres of farmland they can turn into housing nor giant aquifers they can drain for water, so this policy makes some good sense for their situation.

    • I have been giving some thought to what some of the US leaders have been saying about immigration (esp. illegal immigration). If you ignore the racial rantings of such idiots as Tom Tancredo (sadly my representative), there is an interesting angle that many americans have not thought about. Basically, the illegals do come here and they take the low-end jobs that regular americans do not want. Considering that these ppl do not bleed the system (no welfare, no medical, no retirement, etc), but instead contrib
  • by lecithin (745575) on Monday June 20, 2005 @09:16AM (#12862855)
    "Tachikawa's plan follows a January 2004 decision by U.S. President George W. Bush that the U.S., with the assistance of partners including Japan, should build a lunar base by about 2020 and use it as a staging point for the human exploration of Mars."

    Does this mean that the US and Japan will be working together on this?

    This quote actually fits!!!

    "All your base are belong to U.S.!"

    "Tachikawa was voted one of the 25 most influential global leaders by Time..."

    So was Oprah. (same year) For some reason this does not give me the warm fuzzies. Did Tachikawa have a talk show or something?
  • Scalability (Score:3, Funny)

    by suso (153703) * on Monday June 20, 2005 @09:19AM (#12862886) Homepage Journal
    See, I always knew that having a table for what planet you are from was a good idea for our customer user database. Its all part of my scalability plan. Heh heh heh.
  • Buy Sony! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dancin_Santa (265275) <DancinSanta@gmail.com> on Monday June 20, 2005 @09:21AM (#12862906) Journal
    Of course Japanese robots will be working on the Moon. The Japanese are the only ones working on humanoid robots that have made significant process in all aspects of design. So you'll have your Honda Asimo to bring you materials, the Toyota Q'rio to put them together, and Gundam to ward off the Russians.

    If countries were as serious about robotics as the Japanese are, the whole idea of a Moon dominated by Japanese robots would just be a dream. But Tachikawa is just stating the obvious. The sadly, Japanese are the only ones qualified to provide useful robots.
    • Re:Buy Sony! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bornyesterday (888994)
      Humanoid robots would probably be the most inefficient form of robots to send to the moon to build things. You would want a series of specially designed robots that are programmed for individual tasks: i.e. locating and mining ores from the moon, refining them into usable metals, shaping the metal into usable pieces, and assembling pre-designed structures. Not a single one of those would look at all humaniform, much more likely to resemble car-manufacturing robots.

      Hell, even easier would be to send pre-fab

      • Re:Buy Sony! (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Thus starts the uncorrigible mecha fan boys who try to convince you that indeed the humanoid form is the most efficient type of combat form.

        Which is why, for example, we routinely whoop all species in this great animal kingdom. When they're a quarter of our size. And vegetarian.

        • Not sayin' you're wrong, but a human with a 'board-with-a-nail' can take out pretty much anything smaller than two or three times his size, vegetarian or not. Very few animals, tasty or not, are capable of holding, let alone figuring out how to use, a spear.

          It is important to remember Christians vs. Lions didn't always end Lions 1 Christians 0.

          So yes, the human form probably is one of the more versatile forms for single combat. Of course, why you would design a post-atomic-age military around single com
    • This is yet another piece of the "Japanese Mystique". Or perhaps I should call it the "American Myth" where everything made somewhere ELSE is better. Of course we can't compete with Italian Wine and Cuisine, German Automobiles, Japanese efficiency, Asian Mathmatical prowess, European langauge expertise, Jewish bankers, or Japanese hybrids. Ohhhhh that's right. We're competing and winning in ALL those areas. For example, an AMERICAN company designed and supplies the vaunted Japanese hybrid technology.
  • Have their robot dog go fetch a lunar paper? Or have Osimo dig a hole by dancing? Oh! WAIT! I know... the base will be used to construct a giant "LASER" for "mining" operations and then hold the entire world hostage for 1 hundred miiilllllllion doooooolaaars.....
  • Bad idea... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Monday June 20, 2005 @09:22AM (#12862912) Homepage
    I can just see giant problems here. First you position all your supplies to build a moon base, and then you unleash semi-autonomous robots to build it. What happens next is nothing less than the total destruction of human life on Earth, after the robots build their moon base, slowly becoming self aware, and then deciding that all our bases are belonging to them. This is a BAD idea.
  • Long way to go (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dannyitc (892023) on Monday June 20, 2005 @09:26AM (#12862950)
    I don't think getting to the moon will be as trivial for Japan as many here think. This is a country who's space division is operating at a tenth of NASA's budget and has had trouble just putting satellites in orbit as recently as 2003 [rednova.com]. Japanese space technology has a long way to go before they go ahead with all this robot moon base business.
    • Re:Long way to go (Score:3, Interesting)

      by antifoidulus (807088)
      Also keep in mind there is not much room for growth in terms of government funding in Japan. Japan's debt problem is just about as bad as the US's, the big difference is that the majority of Japanese debt is held privately but the US debt is held abroad. In terms of GDP, Japan is even worse off. The size of their debt is roughly 130% of their GDP, the US's debt is about 65% of the debt. The Japanese government is also caters to special interests as much as the government of the US, and their favorite be
    • It's not like the Americans or Europeans have a perfect track record, either. This is tricky stuff. How many satellites has the U.S. Air Force lost during launch in the last ten years? 20?
    • Are you kidding? I have seen videos of moon space stations in Japeneses films since the early 80s.

      Tokusatsus what?
  • Wow... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ch0p (798613) <ch0pstik@gmail.com> on Monday June 20, 2005 @09:27AM (#12862959) Homepage
    These robots better have some clever way of getting rid of the magnetically charged, extreamly abrasive lunar dust. I had to design a lunar robot for a NASA contest, and that was the biggest obsticle. We just came up with some miracle "demagnatizing spray" that would blow off the dust. I'd like to see how they pull this off without made up technologies.
    • We just came up with some miracle "demagnatizing spray" that would blow off the dust. I'd like to see how they pull this off without made up technologies.

      Two possibilities here (that currently exist).

      1) Encase the outside of the robots in a fairly hard/robust plastic/plexiglass. Make sure that any exposed surfaces have no metal on them. Hopefully the dust isn't charge enough to be attracted through the covering.

      2) This idea relies on the assumption that the dust is all charged positive or negative
      • Magnetic dust would be a dipole. Polarize your robot one way and the dust would simply flip over. No positive or negative charge to it.

        You're thinking more along the lines of ionic/electric charge.
      • This idea relies on the assumption that the dust is all charged positive or negative (I don't know if it is all charged one way or not, that is just what this hinges on). Ionize the robot the same polarity as the charge particles.
        Have we learned nothing from Star Trek? Just reverse the polarity...
    • Re:Wow... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      These robots better have some clever way of getting rid of the magnetically charged, extreamly abrasive lunar dust.

      Aluminum?

    • by Stalyn (662)
      It's called magnetic shielding. You figure out how to create a magnetic shield over a certain area. The whole reason the space dust becomes magnetized is the lack of a strong magnetic field on the moon. Magnetic fields are vector fields, create a strong enough magnetic field with an opposite vector field. This will cancel the two fields out.
    • Durable, lightweight plastic casings thick enough that the magnetic dust won't be attracted to whatever metal is underneath? Seems like an easy enough solution.
    • "We just came up with some miracle "demagnatizing spray" that would blow off the dust. I'd like to see how they pull this off without made up technologies."

      Would you like a job? Seriously my group is in search of quality SciFi writing and you sound to me like you have what it takes to write for our next picture or television series. Please contact me at Paramount Studios as soon as possible. I'm really looking forward to hearing from you!

      Sincerly
      Rick Berman
    • You mean electrically charged. Isolated magnetic charge hasn't been observed yet.

      They also need to be able to survive a couple weeks of darkness (unless they build in certain polar regions). Guess they'll have to try a bunch of stuff out and see what works.

    • The problem is the dust getting in joints right? Can you encase the robot in a flexible bag so that no joints are exposed?
  • Hang on... (Score:3, Funny)

    by revery (456516) <charles.cac2@net> on Monday June 20, 2005 @09:32AM (#12863004) Homepage
    Japanese robots on the moon, but no mention of the teenage girls that will pilot them.

    I call shenanigans.

    • Japanese robots on the moon, but no mention of the teenage girls that will pilot them.

      Everyone knows that they will be mostly be piloted by teenage boys with anger management problems, with a few teenage girls - also with anger management problems.

      Some of course, will be incredibly passive, to show our inner turmoil over the use of such robots and provide us with inner dialogue.

      Kawaii overdose, anyone?
  • They really take the scenario to the extremes, and the focus is self-replicating nanotechnology rather than robotics, but it's a very interesting read.

    Advanced Automation for Space Missions [islandone.org]

    Here [zyvex.com] is a good synopsis (the study itself is rather lengthy).

  • The prospect of colonization of the moon is exciting enough, I suppose, and robots are probably the right way to go, considering the general lack of atmosphere.

    Terraforming doesn't seem to be the topic of a lot of news, lately, however... and this is what it'd take for the colony to really be more than just a "human achievement" and become a home....
  • by williamhooligan (892067) on Monday June 20, 2005 @10:10AM (#12863412)
    NASA PR EXECUTIVE: We've just had word that some foreign guy Time voted 13th Most Influential Global Leader back in 2001 wants a major role in the development of the space station.

    NASA PROJECT MANAGER: Oh, for the love of God... where do you find these people? Alright, give him a desk next to Dave Chapelle and that politician guy who reckons he invented the internet. Tell him not to touch anything. And tell Lucas over on Token Consultant Desk #371 that he can stick his turbolaser suggestion up his ass.

  • Manifest Destiny (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ramblin billy (856838) <defaultaddy@yahoo.com> on Monday June 20, 2005 @10:12AM (#12863437)

    Much as Russia has always longed for a warm water port, Japan has always needed a reliable source of raw materials. Their invasions of China and Russia, and their involvement in WWII, were all based on the limited resources of their homeland. The partnership with the U.S. has provided both a market and a supply of materials for the remarkable post WWII growth of Japanese industry. Space is the perfect answer to a continuing joint effort. I own a Honda and am convinced it is a superior product in every way. I see no reason to believe their robots [planetanalog.com] will be any different. The Japanese are sometimes accused of being better copiers than inovators, at least when it comes to technology. That may be true, but we should also consider that many American companies have copied Japanese management techniques with great success. Traditionally the Japanese people have excelled at successful integration of large populations in small areas with limited resources. Their society incorporates complex and specific codes for individual behavior. In an artificial environment, such as a lunar settlement, the ability to get along in crowded conditions and the socialization of necessary protocols for environmental adaptation are powerful tools for success. The typical Japanese's willingness to give loyalty to the greater good makes them ideal partners in enduring the hardships of space exploration. Note that the articles refer to the Japanese contribution to a lunar colony centering on building and mining robots. Of course the technicians to maintain and control those robots will be a part of that contribution. It may be that in the long run, the lessons learned from the Japanese culture will outweigh the benefits of their technology. Personally I like the idea of a U.S. partnership with a society that is absolutely against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. It will make it that much easier for US to do the right thing.

    billy - we have no space-based weapons...no really...we promise...really...
    • Only on Slashdot does a plagiarized post get modded up.
    • That may be true, but we should also consider that many American companies have copied Japanese management techniques with great success.

      The Japanese were influenced heavily by W. Edwards Deming [wikipedia.org], from Iowa.

      But you're right in that the Japanese culture, which has traditionally placed a high value on conformity, seems to be well-suited to high-precision manufacturing. They make good stuff.

      (The above is not meant to imply that all Japanese are conformists or that conformity is the only thing that cha

    • by davejenkins (99111)
      boy, if the parent wasn't chock full of stereotypes (mostly wrong) and wild generalizations, I would think I was on Slashdot or something...

      Japan will not go to space to 'get raw materials'. It is much easier for t hem to buy those materials on the open market.

      Japanese "management techniques" were originally invented and perfected by an American named Demming. Now that the industrial scare from Japan has faded (think all the 1980 movie references), no one really buys into Japanese management technique


      • I admit some generalizations, but would like to refute the "wild" characterization.

        "Japan will not go to space to 'get raw materials'. It is much easier for t hem to buy those materials on the open market."

        Where exactly on the open market will Japan find room for expansion? When petrochemical resources are globally depleted what good will the open market do them? Any country would much prefer to control the source of materials rather than depend on the market. Some manufactored goods can only be produce
    • I own a Honda and am convinced it is a superior product in every way. I see no reason to believe their robots will be any different.

      It's true. Japanese robots can outdance the robots from any other country.
  • It may be a silly question but... Could a full scale exploitation of the Moon's minerals alter the satellite's mass and change its trajectory around the earth? Could that be plausible? We never altered our Earth's mass as almost nothing quit the planet. Cheers, Eric
    • Easy answer no. Would you like me to show you the math?
  • In his wonderful book [abebooks.com] Peace on Earth, [www.lem.pl] Lem has banished all warfare to the Moon, where robot armies, in a self-evolving arms race, battle each other on behalf of their nations on Earth. Highly recommended, this book is a great joy and very memorable not just for the plot and action, but the philosophical meditations we expect from Lem.
  • Perhaps the idea of building robot moon bases is this:

    Japan is completely dependent on imported oil. Oil is presently peaking, and Japan is smart enough to see this (much as they saw they were deforesting their island too quickly several hundred years ago, and embarked on a process of radical reforestation and switching to coal - for more on this, see Jared Diamond's book "Collapse".)

    It is calculated that there's about a million tons of Helium3 (He3) on the moon, and Japan would probably only need abou

    • Oh crap! This garbage keeps circulating.

      1) we don't have reactor technology for Deuterium or Tritium so at this point He3 is so far off that there is little use even thinking about it.

      2) we don't have the space transportation systems running reliably yet.

      What we do have is a fully designed Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) designed by Argonne labs and shut down in 1994 by the CLinton Administration. This reactor will burn 100% of the actinides. Thus it produces no long term waste.

      Furthermore it can burn na
  • by ajlitt (19055) on Monday June 20, 2005 @12:42PM (#12864830)
    NASA will be spanked with moon rocks. On the moon.
  • I, for one, welcome our new Japanese moon-robot overlords!
  • Japan's lunar robots would do work such as building telescopes and prospecting and mining for minerals

    And giant robot overlords. I for one welcome our giant Japanese lunar robot overlords. All hail MechAsimo! [honda.com]

...there can be no public or private virtue unless the foundation of action is the practice of truth. - George Jacob Holyoake

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