Japan’s space agency JAXA has announced its intention to send humans to the moon by the year 2030.
According to Engadget, China has an identical goal to be implemented by 2036, and the JAXA mission is either in direct competition with China’s plans, or the two countries will join forces to accomplish a lunar mission together on the same timeline. The latter appears more likely currently, as hinted at by a JAXA statement to CNN that the agency intends to be part of a multinational crewed lunar landing mission. There are also doubts as to whether JAXA could afford to undertake the mission solo.
The unnamed international effort would begin probe development by 2025. JAXA astronauts do not yet have a confirmed seat but may acquire one after contributing significantly to the mission.
Japan will likely announce more specific details about the project and the agency’s place in the mission during Japan’s International Space Exploration Forum, which will take place in March 2018. JAXA may have additional space exploration plans to announce in keeping with what some are calling the “Asian space race,” fueled by the ambitions goals of China’s and India’s space agencies.
China plans to not only send a crew to the moon but also to explore the moon’s dark side as soon as next year. China also plans to send a rover to Mars by 2020. India meanwhile has successfully tested a reusable space shuttle and launched a record-breaking 104 satellites on a single rocket earlier this year. India sent a space probe to Mars in 2014 and plans to send its second probe to the moon in 2018.
JAXA’s lunar crewed mission proposal was submitted to a panel at Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology and is pending approval.