Japan gaat Maanbasis bouwen bemand door robots.

Via: CNet news:

Just as the Obama administration ditches NASA plans to return to the moon, a group in Japan is vowing to send humanoid robots there by 2015. Call it a giant leap for droidkind.
The Space Oriented Higashiosaka Leading Association (SOHLA), a satellite-manufacturing consortium in the Osaka area, has vowed to put bipedal humanoid bots on the moon in the next five years, according to a Jiji Press report. SOHLA is now developing a prototype astro-bot called "Maido-kun" that it hopes will follow in the steps of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin (minus the "Dancing with the Stars" part).

Weighing about 660 pounds, the droids will roll on treads and operate within a 60-mile radius of the base. They'll be equipped with solar panels, seismographs to investigate the moon's inner structure, high-def cameras, and arms to gather rock samples, which will be returned to Earth via rocket. (source: jaxa/cnet) Line in the sand: Japan's SOHLA group seems to want to send robots to the moon to record astronomical observations--and draw pretty pictures.
(Credit: SOHLA)

The robot will be smaller than a person and, if it makes it onto the moon, may do things like record astronomical observations and take geological surveys (and maybe do a bit of robot moonwalking).

Wat vooral verbaast is de voortvarendheid en het bedrag waarvoor de Japanners het gaan doen - $ 2,2 miljard - en hoe spijtig het toch opnieuw is dat de US het zo laten afweten.
Op Slashdot staat een aardige inzending van iemand over geldverspilling van andere landen voor zaken die belangrijker gevonden worden dan ruimtekolonisatie:

For comparison, here are some expenditures from groups that "can't afford" to go to the moon:
* Canada will spend half that amount [www.cbc.ca] on a meeting of 20 world leaders next month.
* South Africa will spend that much and half again [blogspot.com] on a soccer tournament.
* ThyssenKrupp will spend four times that amount [reuters.com] on a steel mill.
It's such a small amount of money, I can't even believe it's true.