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MEXT earmarked over 80 billion yen for Artemis program in FY 2020 budget request

  • October 27, 2020
  • , NIKKEI Business Daily , p. 6
  • JMH Translation

By Tomihide Koshikawa

 

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) is advancing research and development that will contribute to the U.S.-led unmanned space exploration initiative known as the Artemis program. As part of the effort, Japan has been accelerating the development of the unmanned transfer vehicle HTV-X that takes supplies to Gateway, a new space station to be built in lunar orbit. By joining the Artemis program, Japan aims to send Japanese astronauts to staff the Gateway and land on the Moon.

 

The U.S. started the Artemis program with an eye to return to the Moon by 2024. It also aims to conduct long-term, sustainable exploration of the lunar surface through international cooperation. In October 2019, Japan announced its intent to join the Artemis program, and in July 2020, a joint statement was signed between MEXT and the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) detailing the content of the cooperation.

 

For FY 2020, the Japanese ministry made a space-related budgetary request of 280.9 billion yen, all-time high and 1.8 times the amount in the FY 2019 initial budget. Of that, 80.9 billion yen was earmarked to fund the various efforts associated with the Artemis program, 12 times the FY 2019 initial budget figure. 

 

The expense is expected to increase once the lunar exploration program starts to move forward and there are more opportunities for the Japanese astronauts to participate in various aspects of the program.

 

So far, Japan has spent 30 to 40 billion yen every year on outer-space activities associated with ISS. With the ISS expected to continue to be in service for the foreseeable future, securing funds for both programs may pose a challenge for the ministry. (Abridged)

 

Main Artemis-related items in MEXT budget request

New unmanned transfer vehicle “HTV-X,” the successor to unmanned vehicle “Kounotori (HTV)”

61.0 billion yen

Space station “Gateway,” that will supply tools and facilities drawing on know-how from the ISS

7.6 billion yen

Small lunar explorer “SLIM” for pinpoint landing on the Moon

4.7 billion yen

Lunar exploration project to explore possible water sources in cooperation with India and others

4.8 billion yen

 

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