The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced last week that it plans to land an person on the moon by 2030. And instead of building its own rocket to get there, Japan is leveraging its technology for a lift.
Getting to the moon will take joining a multinational mission, like NASA’s proposed mission to build a space station the orbits the moon in the mid 2020’s, or a multinational expedition to see if there are ice deposits on the moon. Japan has suggested that it is interested in contributing technology to a multinational manned moon probe, with the hopes that being chosen for such a mission would allow the country to land an astronaut on the moon. Although it isn’t clear what technology Japan is trying to leverage to get a trip to the moon, more details of the plan are expected to be announced next year.
The Japanese newspaper, The Asahi Shimbun_ reports that JAXA is hoping to investigate the presence of water in the form of ice around the moon’s south pole. There is a multi-national mission planned to start building a space station around the moon in 2025, led by NASA. One of the objectives of this mission is to discover if the moon has ice deposits, which could be turned into rocket fuel for long-distance spaceflight. JAXA hopes to develop the technology to transform moon ice into fuel, reports The Asahi Shimbun. This would be internationally valuable, and likely require a base on the surface of the moon.
A space station around the moon would support the number of countries look to explore the moon in the 2030’s, like China and the United States, and could serve as a launching point for something like a manned mission to Mars. It is still unclear if Japan will be chosen to join the mission, or exactly what the country is offering for a chance to land on the moon. JAXA’s proposal was presented in a meeting with Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and is still under review. CNN reports that details will be released in time for Japan’s International Space Exploration Forum next March.