Tokyo, Nov. 19 (Jiji Press)–Japan will begin accepting applications for new astronauts for the first time in 13 years, science minister Shinsuke Suematsu said Friday.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, plans to select a few candidates by February 2023 to take part in the Artemis international lunar exploration project, potentially making them the first Japanese to land on the moon.
It is the sixth time that JAXA accepts applicants for new astronauts, with the last recruiting taking place in 2008. From now on, the agency plans to solicit applications for astronauts roughly once every five years.
JAXA abolished its requirement of a four-year university degree in the field of natural sciences, in order to attract a diversity of talents. Candidates must have at least three years of work experience to apply.
Although the change in eligibility requirements opens up the possibility of candidates with degrees in the field of humanities, they will still be tested for knowledge and backgrounds in natural sciences.
The height requirement was eased from at least 158 centimeters to at least 149.5 centimeters. JAXA is aiming to push up the proportion of women among all applicants to around 30 pct from some 10 pct in the past.
The application process will run from Dec. 20 to March 4 next year. After cutting the number of candidates down to around 200 people based on application documents and tests for English skills and general education planned in May 2022, JAXA will hold a three-stage screening process from July that year.
Selected candidates will join the agency in April 2023 and undergo basic training for about two years mainly in Japan before becoming certified JAXA astronauts in March 2025.
“I hope people with brilliant talents not seen before will participate in space development as a result of making it easier to apply,” Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui, 51, who was selected in the last application process, said.