Japanese astronauts will go to the moon on NASA Artemis missions and may even reach the surface as an interagency drive to extend lunar exploration.
According to separate releases from NASA and the White House, President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida reiterated the pledge during a meeting in Tokyo on Monday (May 23).
A Japanese astronaut will visit NASA’s planned Gateway moon-orbiting space station, according to NASA officials. The two leaders also announced a “common aim” to land a Japanese astronaut on the moon (opens in new tab).
According to a White House explanation paper, Japan’s space effort is part of a more extensive set of agreements between the two countries on topics ranging from 5G cellular networks to cybersecurity to scientific and technical cooperation.
If accepted, the space accord would see Japan broaden its scope and reach of exploration following notable missions in recent years. It would also be consistent with Kishida’s inaugural vows to place a Japanese astronaut on the lunar surface, including rewriting Japan’s space policy to push for a crewed landing on the moon.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration is dealing in a fast-changing international space field. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 is still ongoing and has shattered numerous space partnerships; while the ISS interagency agreement with Russia remains in place, there are no guarantees the orbital complex’s mission will be extended beyond 2024, even though Biden has authorized the US to continue operations for another six years.
Its space work in Asia is fast increasing. According to SpaceNews, Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol met in Seoul on May 21 and decided to deepen their contacts “across all fields of space cooperation.”