Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  Space Travel News  

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Twenty years on, Japan's 'Hope' lab to blast into space

JEM as packed on Kibo for shipment to Port Canaveral
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) March 6, 2008
Japan will take a major step towards setting up its first manned space facility next week, when a US shuttle is to deliver the first piece of the multi-billion-dollar lab after 20 years of development.

The Japanese laboratory, called Kibo -- Japanese for "Hope" -- will be established in three deliveries into space. The US shuttle Endeavour is due to take off on the first trip on March 11.

Japan, the world's second largest economy, has few natural resources and has staked its future on advanced technology.

"Japan's only weapon is technology," said Yoshiya Fukuda, a senior official handling manned space projects at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

"Even if we are not the very front-runner in space development, we must be second or so," he said in an interview with AFP. "What else can we do in a country with scant resources and lots of old people?"

Japan has set a goal of sending an astronaut to the moon by 2020, a feat achieved with fanfare in 2003 by its giant neighbour and sometime rival China.

It was in 1985 that Japan decided to join the project championed by then US president Ronald Reagan to build an orbiting International Space Station (ISS).

Development started three years later but assembly of the ISS began only in 1998 due to space shuttle accidents and budgetary problems of the participants, which now include Canada, Europe, Japan, Russia and the United States.

Endeavour is to deliver a storage room for Kibo that will eventually hold materials and devices for experiments. Veteran Japanese astronaut Takao Doi will be on board and dock the storage room at the ISS during a 16-day mission.

"Japan will have its first house in space," Doi, 53, told reporters. "I'll strive to show results that will match the efforts and investment so far."

Another space shuttle in May is to take the primary 11.2-metre (37-foot) long cylindrical lab, large enough to house a big tour bus, as well as a robotic arm.

A flight scheduled for March 2009 will complete the Japanese lab with a porch exposed directly to outer space for experiments under a high vacuum, microgravity, solar energy and radiation.

The exposed segment, which is completely open to space and attached by the robotic arm, is unique to the Japanese facility -- unseen in US or Russian annexes or the European space laboratory Columbus installed in February.

Experiments at Kibo, which has some two million components, are expected to start from around late July this year, Fukuda said.

Microgravity enables scientists to make pure crystals, which could be used in developing revolutionary pharmaceuticals, materials used in semiconductors and other new products, he said.

Japan has spent a total of 680 billion yen (6.6 billion dollars) on human space development since it decided to join the ISS, including 98 billion yen on Kibo's hardware development and manufacturing.

The total cost is expected to exceed a staggering one trillion yen (9.7 billion dollars).

But Fukuda said the long-running project is not only about money.

"It gives dreams to children, which money can't buy," he said.

As Japan frets over surveys which shown that its children are losing interest in science, it has planned plenty of Kibo-related events to attract public curiosity.

Doi plans to throw a three-pronged boomerang inside a space station to test how it can fly in microgravity, an experiment never done before.

Major sporting goods maker Asics Corp. is developing a pair of space sneakers that look like ninja shoes with the separate big toe.

The company hopes Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, who is to take off in December to wait at the ISS for the final batch of Kibo's parts, will use them for daily training to prevent muscle loss.

Japan is also expanding a culinary frontier by supplying instant noodles, curry and other favourite Japanese foods to astronauts.

"I think it's only a matter of time before we will see sushi in space," Fukuda said.

Related Links
Station at NASA
Station and More at Roscosmos
S.P. Korolev RSC Energia
Watch NASA TV via Space.TV
Space Station News at Space-Travel.Com

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Space Station Orbit Raised Five Clicks
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Mar 03, 2008
The orbital altitude of the International Space Station (ISS) has been increased by 5 kilometers (3 miles), a spokesman for the Russian Mission Control Center said on Thursday. "The correction of the orbit of the ISS started at 8:16 a.m. Moscow time [5:16 a.m. GMT] by using thrusters on the Russian module Zvezda," the spokesman said, adding that the procedure had lasted 123 seconds.

  • Space X Falcon 9 Facing More Delays As Shuttle Replacement Looms
  • SpaceX Completes Qualification Testing Of Falcon 1 Merlin Regeneratively Cooled Engine
  • First Firing Of European Staged-Combustion Demonstration Engine
  • Iran gives details on controversial space launch

  • Russia To Launch US Communications Satellite On March 15
  • ILS To Launch Two SIRIUS Radio Satellite On Proton Breeze M
  • Ariane 5 Star One C2 Satellite Launch Campaign Underway
  • ILS Announces Contract To Launch Two Sirius Satellite Radio Spacecraft On Proton Breeze M

  • Shuttle Endeavour Set For March 11 Launch Of Japanese Station Module
  • Tunnels Of Activity Beneath The Shuttle Launch Pad
  • NASA Issues Draft Report On Environmental Issues To Wind Up Shuttle Program
  • US space shuttle Atlantis returns home

  • Twenty years on, Japan's 'Hope' lab to blast into space
  • Space Station Orbit Raised Five Clicks
  • Europe Sets A Course For The ISS
  • Unique Three-Way Partnership For ATV Ground Control

  • Energia Hosts Second Convention For Students Of Space
  • Rockin' All Over the World -- The Top Ten for astronauts
  • Jules Verne ATV Declared Ready For Launch
  • Faster Than A Speeding Bullet: Why We Track The Trash

  • China Kicks Off New Space Launch Center Project
  • Breaking The Silence On Shenzhou
  • China's New Carrier Rocket To Debut In 2014
  • China plans first spacewalk in 2008

  • iRobot Receives Award For DARPA LANdroids Program
  • Coming soon to Japan: remote control with a wink
  • Japanese cellphones to turn into 'robot' buddies
  • Killer Military Robots Pose Latest Threat To Humanity

  • HiRISE Discovers A Possibly Once-Habitable Ancient Mars Lake
  • Mechdyne Enables Virtual Reality Of Mission To Mars
  • Mars And Venus Are Surprisingly Similar
  • Tenacious Spirit Might See Rover Through Martian Winter

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright Space.TV Corporation. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space.TV Corp on any Web page published or hosted by Space.TV Corp. Privacy Statement