When Japanese scientists finally pry open the capsule from the Hayabusa spacecraft they will be able to announce whether or not the mission was a success. If it was it will mark a pretty incredible achievement in space exploration. The precision involved in landing on an asteroid, collecting a sample and then returning to Earth is an impressive feat. In the grand scheme of our lives what will it mean? In the near future probably nothing. But it will demonstrate Japan’s space savvy. This could be a defining moment for Japan’s bold plans for space exploration. By 2022 Japan has an ambitious plan to build a moon base using robots imbued with a sophisticated level of artificial intelligence. If successful, the same plans could be put to work on Mars. What does that mean? Possibly that in the next decade we could be taking the first step to realizing human colonization of space. Obviously, construction on other planets is terrifyingly dangerous, but if we can equip robots to do the work and then follow once the hard suff is complete we could have people living on the moon by 2050 and then Mars by 2070 (that is my personal guess).
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