Why it matters: Japan has agreed to help the US build a lunar space station as part of NASA’s plan to return to the Moon via the Artemis program. The program could also bring humanity one step closer to establishing a sustainable presence on our nearest satellite and eventually sending humans to Mars.
The US ally will provide critical components for the construction of the Lunar Gateway including a life-support system, air conditioning equipment and batteries, among other supplies, The Japan Times reports. The Japanese government hasn’t yet decided if it will help with the actual construction itself due to cost concerns.
Either way, Japan believes its participation will help boost the country’s international profile as a technology leader and further strengthen its relations with the US.
Yoshiyuki Kasai, chairman of the country’s space policy committee, said at a news conference that they expect Japanese astronauts will be able to take part in travel to the Moon as a result of their participation.
NASA’s Artemis program has set a goal of landing the “first woman and the next man” on the Moon by 2024. The last time humans walked on the Moon was in 1972 courtesy of Apollo 17.