Japan to recruit astronauts in 2021, intake for the first time in 13 years

The Minister of Science said on Friday that Japan would recruit a group of potential astronauts in 2021 with an eye to sending them to outer space under a US-led lunar exploration project.

Minister Koichi Haguida said at a news conference that the government would seek applications around next fall, with the goal of being a Japanese citizen on the moon for the first time in late 2020 in Tokyo.

Although Japan has recruited talent in the region for almost every decade since 1983 or later, the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology said, “We are looking to retain a group (in readiness) of astronauts Will apply after every five years from now. ). ”

As part of the Artemis program, the United States aims to send humans to the moon by 2024 for the first time since the 1972 Apollo 17 mission of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

In July, Tokyo and Washington agreed to collaborate on lunar exploration, led by NASA. Both countries aim to provide opportunities for the Japanese crew at the gateway, a small spacecraft that will orbit the moon, and travel to the lunar surface.

Earlier this month, Japan also entered into a US-led international agreement called the Artemis Agreement, which seeks to establish a set of principles for space exploration, including lunar resource extraction.

Currently, seven Japanese astronauts are part of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

When the agency last discovered an astronaut in 2008, a record 963 people applied for the job. 50-year-old Kimiya Yui and 44-year-old Takuya Onishi were elected in February 2009 and 43-year-old Norishiz Kanai was elected in September that year.

All three have already traveled to outer space.

In the near future, 55-year-old elderly astronaut Soichi Noguchi plans to fly to the International Space Station aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft developed by American aerospace manufacturer SpaceX.

NASA’s launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, which will take Noguchi and three US astronauts to the ISS, is not due “until early-to-mid-November”, according to NASA, due to additional investigations on the rocket. .

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