When the Artemis astronauts land on the Moon, a Japanese could be in the mix, hinted US President Joe Biden, who is attending the Quad summit in Tokyo. Biden met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and announced collaboration between the two countries on lunar missions. He also announced that a Japanese astronaut will work abord the lunar gateway, an outpost to be built in the Moon’s orbit.
“In recent years, the alliance between Japan and the United States has grown stronger, deeper, and more capable as we work together to take on new challenges just as important as the opportunities of a rapidly changing world,” Biden said, quoting an example of how the first Japanese astronaut will contribute to the Nasa Artemis program’s journey to the lunar surface.
“Our shared ambition to have Japanese and American astronauts walk on the Moon together reflects our nations’ shared values of exploring space responsibly and transparently for the benefit of humanity here on Earth,” Nasa Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement.
He added that this announcement by Biden has proved to nations throughout the world that America is not alone and that they want to invest in and explore space with countries that value science and economic opportunity and share a common set of values.
President Biden and Prime Minister Kishida stated that they will emphasise the US and Japan’s ongoing cooperation on Earth science data sharing in order to increase scientific understanding of climate change.
The president announced that the US will send Japan a sample from the asteroid Bennu obtained by Nasa’s OSIRIS-REx mission in 2023, as in 2021, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (Jaxa) Hayabusa2 asteroid sample-return mission delivered an asteroid sample to the United States.
Jaxa was critical in assisting Nasa in meeting its goals for the International Space Station and Artemis. Japan had signed the Artemis Accords in 2020 and finalised an agreement with Nasa to provide several capabilities for Gateway’s I-HAB, which will serve as the heart of the outpost’s life support ability as well as additional space for crew to live, work, and conduct research during Artemis missions.
Jaxa’s planned contributions include I-HAB’s environmental control and life support system, batteries, thermal control,andimagerycomponents, which will be integrated into the module by ESA (European Space Agency) prior to launch. These capabilities are critical for sustained Gateway operations during crewed and uncrewed time periods.