Pushing space projects to the next level, Japan has revised the schedule of its space exploration plans, which aims to put a Japanese person on the moon, by the latter half of the 2020s.
“Not only is space a frontier that gives people hopes and dreams but it also provides a crucial foundation to our economic society with respect to our economic security,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said while announcing the new timeline of the space programme.
According to the draft schedule of the plan, Japan will put the first non-American on the moon as part of the Artemis programme, a US-led initiative that aims to return astronauts to the moon.
The space programme also spells out Japan’s aspirations to launch a probe to explore Mars in 2024, as well as to find ways to generate solar electricity in space.
Japan is however not alone in the race as China also plans to become a major spacefaring power by 2030. China also plans to put astronauts on the moon, raising the prospect of an Asian space race.
Earlier in May, China became the second country to put a rover on Mars, two years after landing the first spacecraft on the far side of the moon.
Meanwhile, Japan’s announcement of its space exploration targets comes a week after Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa returned to earth after spending 12 days aboard the International Space Station, becoming the first space tourist to travel to the ISS in more than a decade.