Japan announced last week that it plans to put a man on the moon around 2030. It is the first time the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has unveiled such an ambitious objective. To reach it, it plans to join forces with NASA in a planned american mission to go back to the moon in 15 years, as a step to reach Mars.
JAXA will contribute to the project with Japanese technologies and financing, in a hope to get a ticket to put a Japanese on the moon, said a spokesperson for JAXA to the public broadcaster NHK. The first step, though, will be to build a small space station orbiting our satellite in 2025, that will have to ability to send and retrieve astronauts to and from the moon surface.
This ambition puts Japan in what people have called the New space race. It involves China who created its own space station, sent a robot to the moon and plans to send Chinese people to the astral body by 2025-2030 ; India who launched 104 satellites in a single rocket in February 2017 and sent robots to the Moon this decade with its Chandrayaan programme ; the American NASA who leads the mission to send a crew to Mars ; and the European Union, who is considering whether to ally with the Americans to get to Mars, or to go at it on its own. Some private company also entered the fray, including Space-X with its Dragon launcher, who also has Mars ambitions.