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TOKYO (AP) -- Less than one month after announcing an ambitious plan to send Japan's first astronauts into orbit and set up a base on the moon, the head of Japan's space agency said Wednesday that budget cuts are pushing the program to near collapse.
"If the present rates of decline continue, the space program will collapse," said Keiji Tachikawa, a former private sector executive who assumed leadership of the space agency, known as JAXA, four months ago. "We are almost in a crisis situation."
Parliament has cut the agency's budget each year since it was created in 2003 by merging three government space programs. JAXA currently operates with an annual budget of some 200 billion yen (US$2 billion, euro2.6 billion), about one-tenth the annual budget of NASA in the United States.
Hoping to pump new life into its operations, the agency announced a major policy initiative earlier this month _ saying it wanted to send its first astronauts into space and set up a base on the moon by 2025.
The agency sent the plan to a government space panel for review, asking for a budget increase to roughly US$2.6 billion (euro2 billion) a year, up from US$2 billion (euro1.6 billion) last year. Tachikawa acknowledged that funds were hard to come by with Japan's economy still trying to rebound from more than a decade of stagnation.
"I think Japanese policy-makers recognize the importance of our program, and won't allow it to collapse," Tachikawa said at a news conference.
Originally posted by Murcielago
Hopefully Japan can relize how critical space is to there future and build a bigger annual budget.
Other then the US...Huh, Russia is the current Top-Dog in space flights, not the US. and China is planning on putting 2 people up this year, and India has some great ambitions as well.
Japan's eyes are bigger then their stomach, I liked there space plane HOPE-X, but from the moment they started it I doubted its completion. They need to take the necessary steps, just like Russia, US, & China have done, in other words...start with the capsule design.