After March’s devastating earthquake and tsunami (and the ongoing nuclear crisis in Fukushima prefecture), Japan has a long and expensive rebuilding phase in front of it. But the Japanese have proven themselves nothing if not resilient and resourceful in the face of such hardship.
Should the powers that be decide to continue forward with Japan’s ambitious plan to build a robotic lunar outpost by 2020--built by robots, for robots--there’s no technological reason why they shouldn’t be able to. In fact, there’s really no nation better for the job in terms of technological prowess.
“I think that’s probably doable, although they have some economic problems right now,” the Institute for the Future’s Mike Liebhold says. “There are private launch vehicles that are probably capable of doing that, and I think the robotics by that point are going to be quite robust.”
PopSci Predicts: Technologically possible, but economics will be the deciding factor.