Japan intends to put their own man on the moon by 2030, a proposal by the government-run Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) stated.
This is the first time JAXA has revealed its intention to launch Japanese astronauts beyond the International Space Station, and the mission will most likely be part of an international effort, CNN reports.
The announcement from the Land of the Rising Sun is the latest in a series of projected space exploration mission by Asian countries, who are entering the increasingly competitive field of space power and prestige.
In December 2016, China declared that it will land a rover on Mars by 2020, and launch its own manned lunar mission in the near future. India, meanwhile, plans to launch its second unmanned mission to the moon in 2018. In 2008, it became the fourth country to plant a flag on the lunar surface, following the USA, Russia and China.
The JAXA proposal was unveiled to a panel at Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, which helms the country’s space exploration efforts. A spokesperson for the agency said that the plan was not to send an exclusively Japanese spacecraft, which would be highly expensive, but rather contribute to an international manned mission led by NASA.
NASA plans to build a space station in the moon’s orbit, as part of its long-term ambitions to reach Mars, and eventually send a manned mission to it. NASA, along with other space agencies around the world, are working to send astronauts to the Red Planet by 2030, Phys.org reports.
JAXA hopes that its contributions would allow for one of their own on the NASA lunar mission, which would begin preparations in 2025. This would eventually get a Japanese astronaut on the moon. The spokesperson added that a plan for Japan’s future would be released by the ministry during the country’s International Space Exploration Forum in March 2018.