Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Japan's Manned Space Plans

Japan is moving ahead in developing a manned spaceflight capability.  First, it is looking to have a capsule or mini-shuttle which could be flying people by 2022.  The capsule would land by parachute and come down on either land or water, depending on the size of the capsule, while the mini-shuttle would launch atop a rocket and land on a runway.

Second, longer term, Japan is considering a space plane that would both take off from and land on runways.  It's also looking at hypersonic vehicles that would fly "point-to-point" anywhere on the planet.  That would revolutionize long distance travel.

Japan has the technological base to undertake such projects.  Its economy, while struggling for many years, is still large enough to support such ambitions.  If they succeed, Japan could rather quickly overtake China, at least technologically, to become the leading Asian manned space power.

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