US To Send Japanese Astronaut To Moon Under Artemis Program

President Joe Biden has announced that NASA will help the first Japanese astronaut land on the Moon, accompanied by an American astronaut, under the Artemis Program.

This was revealed during Biden’s meeting with Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo on Monday.

As a first step, a Japanese astronaut will work aboard 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 the challenges — just as important as the opportunities — of a rapidly changing world,” Bide said at a joint press conference with Kishida.

“A great example of this: We viewed Japan’s lunar rover… a symbol of how our space cooperation is taking off, looking towards the Moon and to Mars. And I’m excited about the work we’ll do together on the Gateway station around the Moon and look forward to the first Japanese astronaut joining us in the mission to the lunar surface under the Artemis program,” he told reporters.

The two leaders announced progress on U.S.-Japan collaboration for human and robotic lunar missions.

The United States and Japan are working to formalize the Japanese astronaut’s inclusion on Gateway through an Implementing Arrangement later this year, NASA said in a press release.

“Our shared ambition to see Japanese and American astronauts walk on the Moon together reflects our nations’ shared values to explore space responsibly and transparently for the benefit of humanity here on Earth,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

As part of ongoing collaborations on space and Earth science missions, President Biden and Prime Minister Kishida reaffirmed the United States and Japan’s continued cooperation on Earth science data sharing to improve scientific understanding of the Earth’s changing climate.

Biden confirmed the United States’ intention to provide Japan with a sample from the asteroid Bennu in 2023, collected from NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission. Japan provided the United States with an asteroid sample collected by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Hayabusa2 asteroid sample-return mission in 2021.

JAXA also is critical partner to NASA in helping the agency achieve its goals in science and human exploration, including on the International Space Station and through the Artemis. In 2020, Japan became an original signatory of the Artemis Accords and ?finalized an agreement ?with NASA to provide several?capabilities for Gateway’s I-HAB, which will provide the heart of Gateway life support capabilities and additional space where crew will live, work, and conduct research during Artemis missions.

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