WASHINGTON – The Japanese government plans to join NASA as part of its Artemis Moon Investigation Program, with details of its contribution still to be clarified.
In a statement was posted on Twitter on October 18 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe's office said his government's Strategic Headquarters for National Space Policy had decided that the country would join NASA, to bring people back to the moon, which could eventually lead Japanese astronauts to gain a foothold there.
"Japan will finally open a new page that will lead to exploration of the Moon and space," Abe said in an English statement. "Today, we have decided to participate in the challenging new US venture as an ally bound by strong ties with the US."
In a separate document in Japanese, the government cites several reasons for participating in this venture, including NASA-led efforts, including diplomacy and security, international competitiveness, commercial opportunities, and support for future missions to Mars.
"The program aims to maintain a space station orbiting the Moon, manned lunar surface exploration and other ventures. Mars and other targets are also within sight," said Abe's office.
The Japanese statement said that Japan would work with NASA and other partners to coordinate its participation in various ways. These include providing technologies that could support the early lunar gateway, providing logistics services for the next-generation HTV-X cargo vehicle, and sharing data for the selection of lunar landing sites and other lunar transit services.
Explicitly state whether Japan was still interested in contributing elements to the Moon Portal. In earlier statements by the Multilateral Coordinating Panel, which oversees issues related to the International Space Station, the JAXA Japan Space Agency proposed "residential functions" for the second phase of the Gateway after its first return to the lunar surface in 2024.
Japan becomes the second major space nation to announce its intention to collaborate with Artemis. In February, Canada announced it would develop a robotic arm for the gateway, which will spend about $ 1
Both countries are partners of the ISS, which is governed by an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA). This or similar agreement should form the basis for the formalization of cooperation between countries that also plan to invest in Artemis.
"We will do nothing new. We will use the same system as we move forward, "said Sumara Thompson-King, NASA's General Counsel, during a panel discussion at a University Law Conference of the University of Nebraska's College of Law on October 18 to build on cooperation and coordination with the we were already commissioned to put the space station into operation. "
The announcement also comes shortly before the 70th International Astronautical Congress (IAC), which begins here on 21 October. The potential roles for both Traditional Partners, such as those involved in the ISS, as well as emerging space nations, should be a major theme during the conference.
The agreement could also give Japanese companies new opportunities to participate in the moon exploration. These companies include the ispace company, which develops commercial lunar countries and works with the US company Draper to provide similar services to NASA as part of the agency's Commercial Lunar Payload Services program.
"We greatly welcome this development's optimism for the future of lunar research as well as for relations between Japan and the United States," said Takeshi Hakamada, managing director of ispace, in a statement to SpaceNews. "We strongly believe that the Draper-ispace partnership can complement the US and Japanese efforts to achieve a sustainable return to the moon on a commercial scale."