Could We Actually Land Gundam's Mobile Workers on the Moon?
posted on by Eric Stimson
Gundam: The Origin Technology Labo is a team of grown-up Mobile Suit Gundam enthusiasts who are exploring the likelihood of actually developing the technology seen in Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin. This week it published its interview with Tatsuaki Hashimoto, a control engineer at JAXA (the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) who has been involved with the Hayabusa and SELENE spacecraft programs.
Professor Hashimoto established his Gundam credentials by admitting that he's watched many of the series from the original to Reconguista in G. He chose Zeta as his favorite, as it was his first and he was impressed by its characterization and plot. He then went on to watch the original by renting videos and later caught up on more recent Gundam installments by borrowing his son's DVDs. He thinks there are "quite a few Gundam fans among JAXA's engineers."
An MS-01 Mobile Worker
However, Hashimoto was generally pessimistic about the feasibility of landing an MS-01 Mobile Worker on the moon. (These suits, introduced in The Origin, were the prototype for the Zaku.) He said the Mobile Worker's 70-ton weight would be too much for a modern rocket to handle. Using multiple rockets would be feasible, but at a cost of something like a hundred billion yen (US$937 million). This is for a Space Launch System rocket, though — Space X charges a rate of "one or two hundred million yen" (US$937,000 - US$1.87 million) per kilogram. Better... but still expensive.
The conversation then moved on to actually landing the Mobile Worker. Hashimoto was shown the scene in The Origin II where the Worker is first tested. He told the team that getting something to walk and even land on the moon without toppling was difficult. JAXA is currently testing a lunar lander on a surface that simulates lunar sand. Hashimoto suggested the team try running tests in this environment first. They gladly agreed, with the results to be unveiled on July 1.
This week's Answerman explores why Gundam isn't more popular in America. Ghost in the Shell is another sci-fi anime series that has inspired attempts to recreate its technology; the Ghost in the Shell Realize Project is working on a half-size Tachikoma robot.