The comments I have been able to read lately about space exploration in the Japanese press have been filled with enthusiasm not of the “gladiatorial” variety (I take up the term used by Paul Spudis in his excellent article about The Augustine Commission) but related to commercial opportunities.
This stands in stark contrast to the gloom pervading most of the debate following the Augustine Commission debate.
The following report from the DNI Open Source Center has not been approved for public release but the Federation of American Scientists obtained a copy. It is a must-read to understand Japanese government officials’ position and how they envision Japan filling the void after the Shuttle is retired.
It is to be seen if budget limitations and Japan domestic problems will not put a break on such plans. We should know more early next year.