TOKYO – Japan’s space policy committee in the Cabinet Office decided Thursday to participate in the U.S. program to land astronauts on the moon by 2024.
Japan will offer technical cooperation for the construction of an orbital outpost to be used by astronauts as a base for the Artemis lunar exploration program.
But the Committee on National Space Policy withheld its decision on whether to take part in building the so-called Gateway from 2025, a base housing living quarters, laboratories and docking ports for the exploration of the Moon as well as Mars, due to cost concerns.
Tokyo will notify Washington later this year about the decision by its seven-member advisory body.
Japan will provide devices for a life-support system, air-conditioning equipment and batteries, among other things.
If Japan decides to continue its participation in the U.S. space program from 2025 and beyond, it will use its next-generation cargo transporter, HTV-X, to send supplies to the Gateway.
The Gateway’s construction was initially scheduled to start in 2022 and be concluded around 2026, but the United States said earlier this year that it will focus on sending astronauts to the moon in 2024.
The last humans to walk on the moon were American astronauts from the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.