Japan Plans a Moon Base by 2020, Built by Robots for Robots | Popular Science
So, while we are going to spend years messing around, trying to get to mars, Japan is going for a far more practical goal. If we won't do it, it looks like someone else is perfectly happy to.America may have eighty-sixed its moon base ambitions, but the Japanese have no plans to let perfectly good lunar real estate go to waste. An ambitious $2.2 billion project in the works at JAXA, the Japanese space agency, plans to put humanoid robots on the moon by 2015, and now official backing from the Prime Minister's office says the Japanese could have an unmanned lunar base up and running by 2020.
Key to all of this, of course, is the robots themselves, and who better than the Japanese to dream up and realize the kind of intelligent, self-repairing, multitasking bots that will be needed to fulfill such a mission.