Japanese astronauts to be first non-Americans to land on moon

Japanese astronauts to be first non-Americans to land on moonJapanese astronauts to be first non-Americans to land on moon
via NASA video
Ryan General
April 12, 2024
Two Japanese astronauts are set to become the first non-Americans to land on the moon via a new collaboration with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Key points:
  • Japan’s agreement under NASA’s Artemis program sees two Japanese astronauts joining future American moon missions. 
  • The Artemis program aims to establish a sustainable presence on the moon and pave the way for future missions to Mars. Japan will develop a lunar rover for the project.
  • The first mission, scheduled for 2026, marks the first time humans are returning to the moon in over 50 years. 
  • Specific schedules for the Japanese astronauts’ flights remain uncertain.
  • U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida see the partnership as a way to solidify the U.S.-Japan alliance.
The details:
  • NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and Japan’s Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Masahito Moriyama signed the collaboration agreement on April 9. Nelson emphasized the significance of the cooperation, noting that “America no longer will walk on the moon alone.”
  • Japan’s contribution to the Artemis program involves the development of a pressurized lunar rover called Lunar Cruiser. The rover will support extended expeditions from Artemis landing sites, accommodating two astronauts for up to 30 days.
  • Japan’s involvement in the Artemis program follows its successful landing of the SLIM craft on the moon this year. Japan is the fifth country to achieve such a feat.
  • Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency President Hiroshi Yamakawa expressed readiness for the project. “The pressurized rover will be a powerful contribution to the overall Artemis architecture as Japan and the U.S. go hand in hand with international and industry partners to the lunar surface and beyond,” Yamakawa said in a statement.
  • In December, Vice President Kamala Harris committed to landing an international astronaut on the moon by the end of the decade.
What’s next:
  • The upcoming Artemis 3 mission in 2026 will mark the first crewed landing on the moon under the Artemis program Further missions are scheduled to follow over the next decade.
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