Japan is planning to put an astronaut on the Moon around 2030 in new proposals from the country's space agency. This is the first time the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has revealed its intensions to send an astronaut beyond the International Space Station, a spokesman said on Friday.
Reports said the idea is to first join a mission led by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) in 2025 to build a space station in the Moon's orbit, as part of a longer- term effort by Nasa to reach Mars.
This latest announcement comes as China and India develop their space programmes. In recent timese, there has been an increasing competition for space-related power and prestige in the region. The spokesman said Tokyo hopes that contributing to the multinational mission and sharing Japanese technology will land it a spot at the station, from which it could eventually send an astronaut to the Moon.
According to public broadcaster NHK, the plan was presented at an education ministry panel this week, with a more formal blueprint expected next year.
Last year in Novcember, China's Shenzhou-11 spacecraft returned to Earth, bringing home two astronauts from the rising power's longest orbital mission. Meanwhile, Nasa and other global space agencies are working hard on sending astronauts to Mars by the 2030s.
In March, the US Congress passed a Bill, signed by US President Donald Trump, directing Nasa to send a manned mission to Mars in 2033.