The government’s Committee on National Space Policy on Dec. 3 decided to launch full-scale negotiations with the U.S. and Europe on how to divide up technological responsibilities among participating nations in a bid to join the U.S.’s plan to build a space station over the moon in the 2020s. The committee included the plan in the work schedule for the Basic Space Plan. The government’s Strategic Headquarters for Space Development, headed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, will make a formal decision on the plan within the year.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is independently developing the necessary technology for humans to live on a space station, such as technology for recycling water and air. The government will call on countries to entrust such technological development to Japan during international negotiations.
According to an estimate by JAXA, however, the development and construction of a space station itself will cost as much as about 310 to 420 billion yen. Also, how the costs will be divided up among countries has yet to be decided. The government says it will adjust the division of technological responsibilities and negotiate on costs before making a final decision on participation in the space station plan. (Abridged)