Japan is going to the Moon. Aside from the prestige of being one of only three other countries to have accomplished that feat, they plan to reap the side benefits of having functional a lunar program. Japan’s goal is not only to land on the Moon, but do it for far cheaper than in the past. They’re experimenting with a lot of cost-effective ways to do a unmanned moon landing, which should lead to a cornucopia of fun, moon-related goodies. After all, we have the US space mission to thank for stuff like Velcro. I’m looking forward to what Japan’s scientists can come up with on their journey to the Moon, if they actually make it there.
But this is Japan we’re talking about, and plans to conquer the Moon don’t just end with planting a flag. Japan is a country of extremes. Its lunar projects are no exception.
5 Make It an Advertisement
A Japanese company wants to put a time capsule on the Moon. Taken at face value that’s something anyone could get behind. Unfortunately for future generations, though, the program’s brainchild is a sports drink company. The most important thing they have to show the future is the shamelessness of 21st century marketing.
The “time capsule” will be shaped like a can of their drink, Pocari Sweat, and filled with a powdered sample. That name becomes even more charming once you know “Sweat” symbolizes how the drink is chemically balanced to have the electrolyte content of body fluid. So, aside from telling future generations we associated drinking sweat with good health, the stated aim of the capsule is to inspire children to become astronauts so they can travel to the Moon, open the can, and eat the powder inside.
Trivializing children’s dreams of becoming astronauts by counting drinking sweat powder among their motivations sounds like something to protest. The same people who thought Will Smith painting a big red heart on the Moon in Hancock wasn’t a happy ending might also think it should be off-limits for promotions. There are some things that just shouldn’t be exploited, like the dreams of children, which Pocari Sweat is stamping on their time capsule to add some validity to the whole affair.
They invited children all over the world to write them letters about their dreams.The best will be carved into the titanium can, forever part of the first lunar advertisement campaign. Those which are not good enough to be shot into space will be discarded.
Making the Moon a giant billboard is any brand’s wet dream. One Japanese company just has the sweaty balls to make it happen.
4 Luna Ring
The Shimizu corporation wants to turn the Moon into the Death Star–for the good of mankind, of course. Their “Luna Ring,” aims to give the Moon a belt of solar panels across its equator that would beam power back to earth with microwaves and lasers. Materials for the panels would be acquired locally (on the Moon) and the construction work will be done by an army of lunar robots. Shimizu says that since the Moon lacks an atmosphere, the power our celestial neighbor generates could power the the entire Earth indefinitely.
Unlimited clean energy sounds like a good trade off for giving the Moon a shiny girdle. Still, to anyone who thinks handing an army of robots an unlimited power source to shoot lasers at earth sounds like a recipe for armageddon–I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords!
But the Shimizu corporation has a few of these ideas on the drawing board: terraforming the desert, underwater facilities, floating cities, and underground cities to name a few. Despite all of them sounding ludicrous at present, and given that Shimizu’s capital is only a bit over a half million dollars US, I’m pretty sure the company doesn’t actually expect anything to come of them. Their “projects” look more like exercises of their designers’ imaginations rather than actual proposals. And kudos to them for looking so far into the future, when projects like Moon-Death Star Laser might one day become reality. For now, I’m sure they’re just happy with all the publicity it’s receiving.
3 Dominoes Pizza on the Moon
In 2001, Pizza Hut made a delivery to the Moon by sending six pizzas to the international space station. Given that your tastebuds go haywire in zero-G, they were incredibly lucky the cosmonaut who was on camera gave it a thumbs up. But that thumbs up launched the pizza wars right into space. Not to be outdone, Dominoes Pizza announced plans for a restaurant on the Moon. They hired Maeda Corp to come up with plans for the dome-shaped concrete structure, which estimates the project will cost around 21 billion US dollars. Considering that Dominoes itself is only worth about 2 billion, I’d say this one’s a long way off.
“In the future,” says Dominoes Japan’s spokesman, “we anticipate there will be many people living on the Moon.”
They’re just planning ahead, you see.
My favorite part of the publicity stunt is Dominoes Japan CEO’s hilarious commercial, ripe with inspiring quotes ripped from the mouths of just about every other famous speaker. “Dominoes will make one giant leap! We have dream!” he says. “It takes courage to accept the challenge to make your dreams come true.”
“Make your dreams come true.” Isn’t that a great slogan for a campaign that will never, ever happen?
But even the CM hints pretty clearly at how ridiculous it is. “Perhaps you think we’re foolish to take on such a challenge. And maybe we are foolish…”
No, I don’t think you’re foolish for getting the publicity you wanted. But having the CEO dress up in that horribly fake astronaut costume and giving that ridiculous speech in front of a blurry projection of the Moon? Well, that’s another story.
2 Pierce the Moon with the Spear of Longinus!
To celebrate Evangelion’s 20th anniversary, a group of volunteer called Hakuto teamed up the with producers of Neon Genesis Evangelion. They started a crowdfunding project to put a replica of the Spear of Longinus, a weapon one of the Evas hurls into the Moon, on the real Moon. With so many companies competing for Lunar X prize, which will award the first team to put a private lander on the Moon, Hakuto wanted to piggybacked a spear on one.
Project Pierce the Moon with the Spear of Longinus READYFOR? was born, because Japan has never been subtle about naming things.
The replica, though, was unfortunately minaturized to 24 centimetres. It’s understandable, considering the teams participating in the Lunar X project are guessing that packages to the Moon will cost in the order of tens of millions of dollars. So instead of hurling a giant robot spear into the Moon, it will be more of a gentle poke from a device strapped onto the side of the lander.
Or rather it would have been. The cut off for the project was April 5th, 2015, when they needed to have raised a around a million dollars US to “make it so.” (Star Trek reference!) Unfortunately they only raised about half of that. But regardless, half a million was no small feat. Crowdfunding hasn’t really caught on in Japan yet, and Project Pierce the Moon…etc. turned out to be the country’s biggest crowdfunded project to date.
1 Built By Robots, For Robots
In 2010, Japan revealed a plan is for a lunar base, which will be built by and for robots.
As far-flung as that sounds, this is Japan, a country known for its mastery of robo-tech. The robots are planned to roam the lunar landscape surveying points of interest on long range missions–longer than any currently possible, which should collect some never-before-seen data on the Moon.
As good as that sounds, though, it is turning out to actually be a bit too far flung after all. The project was estimated to cost about 2 billion US, which Japanese taxpayers might think is too steep for some really, really good Moon topography. The initial landing was also projected for this year. That hasn’t happened. The robobase is suppose to be up and running by 2020, which is also very, very unlikely. Unfortunately for any robots with their eyes set on landing on the Moon, the plan seems to have as much basis in reality as Gundam. There is one in Odaiba, but it’s not going anywhere.