Now Japan Plans To Put A Man On The Moon

Tossing its hat into the ring of proposed lunar manned missions, Japan announced this week that it would like to put a man on the moon by 2030. And just like similar proposals for future space ventures from other nations, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) acknowledged the exorbitant costs of doing so, and admitted it would likely send astronauts as part of an international mission to the moon.

A JAXA spokesman announced this week that a proposal to put Japan's first man on the moon, which was initiated by the Japanese space agency, was tendered to the nation's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, which oversees Japan's space exploration. The spokesman told CNN that the plan, Japan's first ever to commit to exploring the moon's surface, was not planned as an exclusive Japanese mission to the moon, which he noted would be extremely costly. The plan is to be a contributor to a multinational manned lunar probe, and by contributing technology to a mission, Japan is hoping to be awarded an astronaut's seat on the lunar mission.

Sputnik News reported that the local media outlet, NHK, Japan's national broadcasting organization, made the announcement that JAXA's proposal was to send an astronaut to the moon after 2025.

Japan astronaut Takuya Onishi
JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Takuya Onishi helped after landing on return from 115-day mission to the International Space Station in 2016. [Image by Bill Ingalls/NASA/AP Images]

Japan is the second Asian nation to announce designs for manned missions to the moon. Back in December, according to the Daily Mail, China announced its extensive plans for lunar exploration, including next year's probe that will perform the first ever landing on the dark side of the moon, and a 2020 mission that places a rover on the surface as well.

Concept of Japan lunar landing
Japan's announcement of putting a man on the Moon marks the nation's first design on mounting a manned Moon mission. This artist's rendition of a lunar landing by Japan's SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon) spacecraft is scheduled for a 2018 launch. [Image by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency/AP Images]

But China's long-term goal for the moon would not put boots on the lunar surface until 2036.

In early June, China media cited a senior space official in stating that it will "not take long" for a China manned moon mission to get official approval and funding from the government.

China also has designs on cooperating in an international space venture. They have spoken with Russia on perhaps collaborating on future lunar missions and perhaps the space station (which China is already building and plans to have completely operational by 2022), and proposed to the European Space Agency a collaboration for the construction and manning of an international moon base.

The JAXA spokesman told CNN a plan for Japan's future space exploration would be released by the ministry's panel prior to Japan's International Space Exploration Forum, which will be held in March, 2018.

[Featured Image by JAXA/AP Images]