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2009 Vol.3
The Space Frontier and Japan’s Long-Term Focus

2009/07/01

Forty years have passed since Apollo 11 landed on the Sea of Tranquility on July 20, 1969, and numerous rockets and satellites have subsequently been launched, mainly by the United States, Russia, and European nations. There are now approximately 500 people who have experienced outer space, and many mysteries about the universe have been solved. On April 28, 2001, the American millionaire Dennis Tito became the first civilian space tourist, and space – the frontier for mankind – is coming ever closer to our lives, as seen in, for example, planned sales in Japan of commercial space trips.
The development of spacecrafts such as rockets and satellites has been the main focus of Japan’s space development programs thus far. However, since the technology involved at the international level is now well established, its commercialization is driving the next wave of development, a move which challenges Japan’s international competitiveness. In view of these circumstances, the Japanese government has prepared a basic space plan and aims at fostering the space industry as a strategic industry of the 21st century with a budget of 2.5 trillion JPY (max.) for the next 5 years.
This article sheds light on the space industry anticipated to be a strategic, 21st-century industry, summarizes the situation that Japan faces, and proposes that a space photovoltaic system and space elevator should be part of Japan’s long-term focus. The author hopes that Japan will succeed in developing these two devices, in which the country has technological advantages, by concentrating its energy and efforts on them; such efforts will contribute to a prosperous future of mankind.

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