TOKYO, Japan - The Japanese government has decided it will one day send a rocket to Mars with people and building materials.
The science and technology ministry has announced it will proceed with expansion of its space program to include future missions to the moon and Mars.
Up until now, the Japanese government said it would concentrate space efforts on building future settlements on the moon.
With Martian exploration now included in the country's space program the government will need to gain international cooperation to ensure its success.
Space program talks are expected to move into accelerated mode as the government is expecting a report from its Committee on the National Space Policy as early as next month.
A ministry draft has said it is hoped Japan will be able to encourage other nations to help advance the plan and share the massive financial burden.
The development efforts will include unmanned exploration, manned missions to Mars and long-term settlement on the moon.
Technology already gleaned from the International Space project is expected to be put to use in the exploration programme.
The United States is also working on a manned exploration of Mars, with a new-generation spacecraft, Orion, expected to be built prior to 2030, when the US government has proposed the first Mars flight.