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Whose Moon?

Back in the 1960s when the Apollo astronauts were first walking on the moon, everybody assumed this was the beginning of great things to come. America had won the space race! By the year 2000, we all said, there would be a space station, a moon base, and all sorts of great stuff. Where's the moon base?

Well, there is one in the works. Its current schedule is for construction to be completed by 2030.

However, the moon base isn't a NASA project; it's being planned by the Japanese. The moon base is part of a plan announced by JAXA, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency. They aren't just speculating on what might be possible, either, they're already starting. The JAXA will be launching a satellite into lunar orbit, and plan to follow it up with astronauts collecting rock samples.

If all goes according to plan, construction on the actual moon base should begin in about 15 years. Japan has had a series of embarrassing setbacks for their space program in recent years, including losing a high-profile Mars probe, but with this new initiative they hope to change all that. With NASA also talking about a moon base, it may be that we will see a new space race; this time, between friends.

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