Japanese Astronaut May Join Artemis Mission

A NASA artist’s illustration of Artemis astronauts working on the Moon. | Image by NASA

A Japanese citizen may soon join one of NASA’s missions to the moon.

The Artemis Program, the successor to the Apollo Program of the 1950s, is a series of missions aimed at establishing a permanent human presence on the surface of the moon.

The first in this series, Artemis I, launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in November 2022, as previously reported by The Dallas Express. This mission was uncrewed.

Artemis II is set to launch no later than September 2025 and will see four astronauts travel around the moon before returning to Earth. This mission type is known as a crewed lunar flyby.

“The Artemis II flight test will be NASA’s first mission with crew aboard the SLS (Space Launch System) rocket and Orion spacecraft and will pave the way to land the first woman on the Moon on Artemis III,” per NASA.

The Artemis III mission, which will see humans set foot on the moon, is set to launch no earlier than September 2026 with a crew of four.

“Artemis III will be one of the most complex undertakings of engineering and human ingenuity in the history of deep space exploration, exploring the lunar South Pole region,” said NASA on its website. “The astronauts’ observations, samples, and data collected will expand our understanding of our solar system and home planet, while inspiring the Artemis Generation.”

An unnamed senior U.S. official said that the U.S. and Japan are expected to announce the first non-American on a NASA lunar mission —  a Japanese astronaut. This announcement is expected to be made during Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s meeting with President Joe Biden in Washington, according to Bloomberg.

Japan is among several nations that have signed the Artemis Accords, which dictate principles for future space exploration between cooperating nations. According to NASA, other nations that have signed the accords are Australia, Italy, Canada, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates, the U.S., and the United Kingdom.

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