LIVING on the moon or other planets might seem like a lofty dream reserved to science fiction, and until now it has been.
A new research centre at the Tokyo University of Science, however, aims to change this. Led by Japan’s first female astronaut, the Space Colony Research Centre will have 30 researchers dedicated to exploring ways that humans can live in colonies on the moon or Mars.
According to the AFP news agency, the centre’s director Chiaki Mukai said it is “very realistic” that humans will be able to establish a colony on the moon by 2030. It would resemble a campsite, she said – “you have to bring everything with you”.
The 66-year-old – who spent more than 500 hours in space during her career as an astronaut – said she was “certain” that she would see a fully functioning moon colony in her lifetime.
“My dream is to get a job as a flight attendant on a commercial spaceflight so I can help to get people to the moon,” Mukai told the AFP.
Her team is currently developing a food production system whereby potatoes can be more efficiently grown in space, using liquid plasma created by passing electricity through a saline solution.
They have also developed a way of producing electricity with very small thermoelectric censors which could be attached to a potential colony.
The United States and China might be dominating the modern space race, but the centre would represent Japan’s contribution to humanity in terms of space exploration and addressing global challenges, Mukai said.
“We are not only developing the technology for a moon base but as a spinoff, we will be able to help many issues that we need to solve on Earth,” she said, speculating that hydroponic technology they are developing could assist countries in sub-Saharan Africa that lack natural resources.
“It’s in our nature to explore,” added Mukai. “The Earth is too small for us, don’t you think?”