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Science

A room with a lunar view: Japan eyes remote construction on the moon

Private-sector companies handling R&D with public funding soon to be chosen

High-speed communication will be needed to operate the lunar machinery.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- The structures may not be made of brick and mortar, or even green cheese, but Japan has plans to build on the moon, tapping existing technologies for remotely operating construction machinery and joining the international race to explore resources on the lunar surface.

Tokyo aims to construct an unmanned lunar base as early as fiscal 2030, and seeks to establish building methods by fiscal 2025. Private-sector companies due to handle research and development with public funding will be selected in September.

The government will work with companies possessing expertise in construction, machinery, automation and sensing technologies.

One plan is to develop autonomous machinery that can work on the lunar terrain, drawing upon technologies currently used in no-go locations like disaster-hit areas.

From gravity to temperature, the moon's environment is vastly different from that of the Earth, so the existing technologies must be modified. High-speed communication will be needed to operate the lunar machinery.

Feasibility will be tested in fiscal 2021, and the initial development plans for concrete technology will be determined as early as fiscal 2022.

As part of the country's space development program, the project is managed by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism in cooperation with the Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology, which oversees the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

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