Spacecraft and rockets with no personnel onboard  are controlled by people on the earth's surface. There is one major issue with this arrangement, time to action responses. When a rocket's onboard sensors discover an error, it relays the information back to earth and operators from there figure a way to handle the situation. The further the craft sits from earth, the longer it takes to handle a problem.



The Institute of Space and Astronautical Science at JAXA seek to eliminate the delay by creating an artificial intelligence to handle much of a space vehicle's operations. The rocket, called Epsilon, will be able to diagnose issues, make repairs, provide and implement solutions. The Epsilon will make its first space flight in 2013.



I was under the idea that there was something like this already in place, some sort of error checking and correcting on board. This new knowledge makes space travel look a little less high tech. See more at the JAXA Site.