Japan, Turkey shoot for the Moon by conflicting means

Special to CosmicTribune.com, April 17, 2024


By Richard Fisher

American allies Japan and Turkey have chosen divergent paths to the Moon: Japan via its longstanding alliance with the United States and Turkey via a new potentially problematic alliance with China.

Japan long ago decided that its alliance with the United States formed the basis for its ambitions to create a presence and profit on the Moon.

On April 9, 2024 NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, left, and Japan’s Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Masahito Moriyama, signed an historic agreement for both countries to advance human exploration of the Moon. / NASA

In October 2020 Japan was one of the original co-signers of the Artemis Accords organized by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) under the Trump Administration, to create set of guidelines for behavior on the Moon.

In January 2021 Japan and NASA finalized an agreement in which Japan would contribute to the Artemis Program’s Gateway small space station in lunar orbit that would serve as a staging point for manned and logistic missions to the Moon’s surface.

Japan agreed to contribute to Gateway’s habitation module (I-Hab) by building its “environmental control and life support system, batteries, thermal control and imagery components,” according to a NASA press release.

But on April 10 Japanese cooperation under Artemis reached a much higher level.

During Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio’s summit in Washington with President Joe Biden it was agreed that a Japanese astronaut would be the first international astronaut as part of the Artemis Program to walk on the Moon.

A joint U.S. Japanese statement noted, “a shared goal for a Japanese national to be the first non-American astronaut to land on the Moon on a future Artemis mission, assuming important benchmarks are achieved.”

The day before, NASA and Japan agreed that, “Japan will design, develop, and operate a pressurized rover for crewed and uncrewed exploration on the Moon. NASA will provide the launch and delivery of the rover to the Moon as well as two opportunities for Japanese astronauts to travel to the lunar surface,” according to a NASA statement.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said, “America no longer will walk on the Moon alone. With this new rover, we will uncover groundbreaking discoveries on the lunar surface that will benefit humanity and inspire the Artemis Generation.”

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