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Japan may join space station project aimed at manned moon landings

  • December 1, 2017
  • , Kyodo News , 1:09 p.m.
  • English Press

Japan will consider joining a U.S.-proposed project to build a new space station in orbit around the moon, hoping that it will boost the chances of sending Japanese astronauts to the lunar surface, government officials said Friday.


The move indicates Tokyo’s desire not to fall behind the developments in the space field, as Russia said in September it will collaborate with the United States on the new space station, whose completion is envisioned in the latter half of the 2020s.


The science ministry panel proposed in a report compiled Friday that the government consider joining the U.S.-led project. The proposal was included in the draft revised road map of Japan’s space policy, to become official later in the month.


The government believes that Japan can contribute to the space station project through its unmanned cargo ship and other technologies.


But details have not been worked out and the financial burden linked to the space station project may loom large.


In a report worked out in October, the panel left vague how the country should pursue manned space missions. But the panel delved into the issue after Japan and the United States agreed to cooperate in space exploration during talks between their leaders in November.


According to the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the new space station is expected to serve as a base for manned missions to the moon’s surface as well as a transit point to Mars.


Japan, for its part, plans to establish its own moon landing technology through the planned launch of an unmanned spacecraft in the fiscal year starting April 2019. If successful, it would be the country’s first landing on the moon.

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