President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met in Tokyo on Monday, May 23, 2022, where they announced progress on collaboration for human and robotic lunar missions. They confirmed their commitment to include a Japanese astronaut aboard the lunar Gateway outpost, as well as their shared desire to see a future Japanese astronaut land on the Moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program.
“In recent years, the alliance between Japan and the United States has grown stronger, deeper, and more capable as we work together to take on new challenges – just as important as the opportunities – of a rapidly changing world,” said President Biden. “A great example of this: We viewed Japan’s lunar rover… a symbol of how our space cooperation is taking off, looking towards the Moon and to Mars. And I’m excited about the work we’ll do together on the Gateway station around the Moon and look forward to the first Japanese astronaut joining us in the mission to the lunar surface under the Artemis program.”
The United States and Japan are working to formalize the Japanese astronaut’s inclusion on Gateway through an Implementing Arrangement later this year.
“Our shared ambition to see Japanese and American astronauts walk on the Moon together reflects our nations’ shared values to explore space responsibly and transparently for the benefit of humanity here on Earth,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “With this historic announcement, President Biden is once again showing nations throughout the world that America will not go alone but with like-minded partners. Under Artemis, it’s our intention to invest in and explore the cosmos with countries that promote science, economic opportunity, and a common set of shared values.”
President Biden and Prime Minister Kishida confirmed the United States and Japan’s continuous cooperation on Earth science data sharing to better scientific knowledge of the Earth’s changing climate as part of ongoing partnerships on space and Earth science missions.
Additionally, the president confirmed the United States’ intention to provide Japan with a sample from the asteroid Bennu in 2023, collected by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission. Japan provided the United States with an asteroid sample collected by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Hayabusa2 asteroid sample-return mission in 2021.
JAXA also is a critical partner to NASA in helping the agency achieve its goals in science and human exploration, including on the International Space Station (ISS) and through the Artemis. In 2020, Japan became an original signatory of the Artemis Accords and finalized an agreement with NASA to provide several capabilities for Gateway’s I-HAB, which will provide the heart of Gateway life support capabilities and additional space where crew will live, work, and conduct research during Artemis missions. JAXA’s planned contributions include I-HAB’s environmental control and life support system, batteries, thermal control, and imagery components, which will be integrated into the module by ESA (European Space Agency) prior to launch. These capabilities are critical for sustained Gateway operations during crewed and uncrewed time periods.